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Healthy Minds

Dealing with Stress

Stress can affect every part of your life. These resources are here to help.

The Power of Resilience: Coping

How do you cope when feeling stressed or facing challenges? Do you go for a walk, become silent or even holler?! Stressors can wreak havoc on an individual’s health and those around them. However, with the right collection of positive coping skills we can avert havoc and in turn help the children in our lives learn healthy coping strategies and prevent anxiety and worrisome behaviors from forming. Understanding the importance of and adopting healthy coping skills is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and the young people in your life. By demonstrating a range of healthy coping strategies and verbalizing what we are doing we demonstrate for children there are many positive ways to handle challenges.

So, we’ve got to be a role model! We cannot teach kids the danger of drugs while we use alcohol to deal with our own emotions. We cannot expect kids to talk to us when we bottle up our own feelings.

Let’s explore four ideas to help positively manage stress developed by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, an expert in the area of resiliency.

Idea 1: Identify and then address the problem.

Problem solving is the best way to start dealing with stress. By determining what the issue is and identifying ways to address it we get to the heart of the problem and alleviate the stress. But, before we can accurately alleviate stress we must know if the problem is a real cause of stress or if we just feel like it is. In order to know, we must be thinking clearly, calmly and rationally. Sometimes after a bit of exercise or calming techniques we may realize the problem is not a major crisis we thought it was.

Many of us prefer to cope by ignoring real causes of stress, but with this tactic the problem will persist and often will get worse. Procrastination only builds stress because we do not really enjoy the things we should when we’re thinking of the important items we are putting off. This creates a nagging cycle of stress. Breaking large tasks into smaller pieces and creating lists of what needs to be done can help us address what we need to do.

Idea 2: The power of exercise.
Daily exercise is the best thing we can do to manage our stress and become strong and healthy. Often when we are stressed we feel we don’t have time for exercise, but that is when we need it the most. Exercise helps bring calm and focus. Regular exercise increases our energy level enabling us to take care of what we need to and thus dodge additional stress.

Idea 3: Release emotional tension.

Stuffing all of our feelings and worries inside can cause us to become angry and frustrated without really knowing why or exploding at the smallest thing potentially unrelated to what is really stressing us. Instead, choose to release thoughts and worries one at a time. Here are some ideas.

  • Creativity — Outlets like art, music, poetry, singing, dance are powerful ways to let feelings out.
  • Talking — Each person needs a trusted adult they can talk to. For children, hopefully this is their parents, but if they prefer not to tell their parents everything another trusted adult is important. Trusted friends are important as well.
  • Journaling — Writing it out can do much to release our concerns.
  • Prayer — Many people young and old find prayer and meditation very helpful.
  • Laughing or crying – Giving permission to fully feel our emotions.

Idea 4: Contribute.

When young people contribute to their communities and the larger world around them they feel good about themselves. The sense of purpose contribution brings also gives them confidence to address their own problems. We all can really make a difference in people’s lives and reap the benefits.

Here are some final questions to ask ourselves as we consider fostering healthy coping strategies within ourselves and youth.

  • Do we recognize that so many of the risk behaviors youth engage in are attempts at reducing the stress or pain in their lives?
  • Do we condemn young people for their behaviors? Do we increase their sense of shame and therefore drive them toward those behaviors?
  • Do we guide youth to develop positive, effective coping strategies?
  • Do we help young people understand when their thoughts are magnifying problems; do we help them to make realistic assessments?
  • Do we model positive coping strategies on a daily basis?
  • As we struggle to compose ourselves so we can make the fairest, wisest decisions, do we model how we take control rather than respond impulsively?

Remember that we cannot expect youth to use the exact same healthy coping strategies we do. Coping skills are unique to an individual and change over time as children enter different levels of development. Yet, by role modeling and exposing youth to positive strategies they may use later we are setting them up to draw on their own healthy coping skills when needed.

For more information, visit our website at

El poder de la resiliencia: la capacidad para afrontar

¿Cómo afronta los sentimientos de estrés o los desafíos? ¿Sale a caminar, permanece callado o puede llegar a gritar? Los causantes del estrés pueden crear estragos en la salud de una persona y de las personas que la rodean. Sin embargo, con el conjunto adecuado de habilidades positivas de afrontamiento, podemos evitar estos estragos y, a su vez, podemos ayudar a los niños de nuestro entorno a aprender estrategias saludables de afrontamiento y a evitar la formación de conductas de ansiedad y angustia. Comprender la importancia de las habilidades saludables de afrontamiento y adoptarlas es uno de los mejores regalos que puede hacerse y hacerles a los jóvenes de su entorno. Demostrar diversas estrategias saludables de afrontamiento y verbalizar lo que hacemos nos permite demostrar a los niños que existen muchas formas positivas de manejar los desafíos.

Entonces, ¡seamos un ejemplo! No podemos enseñar a los niños los peligros de las drogas si ingerimos alcohol para hacer frente a nuestras propias emociones. No podemos esperar que los niños hablen con nosotros si reprimimos nuestras propias emociones.

El Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, experto en el área de la resiliencia, desarrolla cuatro ideas que ayudan a manejar el estrés de forma positiva.

Idea 1: Identificar y abordar el problema.

La resolución de problemas es la mejor forma de empezar a manejar el estrés. Si determinamos cuál es el problema e identificamos formas de abordarlo, encontramos su origen y aliviamos el estrés. Pero, antes de poder reducir el estrés de manera objetiva, debemos saber si el problema es realmente causa de estrés o si solo sentimos que lo es. Para poder saberlo, debemos pensar de manera clara, calma y racional. A veces, después de hacer un poco de ejercicio o aplicar técnicas de relajación, nos damos cuenta de que el problema no es tan grave como pensábamos.

Idea 2: El poder del ejercicio.

Ejercitar a diario es lo mejor que podemos hacer para manejar el estrés y mejorar nuestra resistencia y nuestra salud. Muchas veces, cuando estamos estresados, sentimos que no tenemos tiempo para hacer ejercicio, pero ese es el momento en el que más lo necesitamos. Hacer ejercicio nos ayuda a calmarnos y concentrarnos. El ejercicio regular aumenta el nivel de energía, lo que nos permite ocuparnos de lo que necesitamos y evitar sentir más estrés.

Idea 3: Liberación de tensiones emocionales.

Acumular dentro todas nuestras emociones y preocupaciones puede causarnos enojo o frustración sin saber verdaderamente el origen, o puede hacer que explotemos por cualquier situación que quizá no esté relacionada con lo que nos está estresando realmente. Es mejor liberar las preocupaciones y los pensamientos de a uno. Estas son algunas ideas.

  • Creatividad: Los canales de expresión, como el arte, la música, la poesía, el canto o la danza son formas efectivas de dejar salir las emociones.
  • Hablar: Cada persona necesita un adulto de confianza con el que pueda hablar. En el caso de los niños, lo ideal serían los padres, pero si prefieren no contarles todo, es importante que haya otro adulto de confianza. Los amigos de confianza también son importantes.
  • Tener un diario personal: Escribir puede ayudar mucho a liberar nuestras preocupaciones.
  • Rezar: Muchas personas, jóvenes y adultas, encuentran una salida en la oración y la meditación.
  • Reír o llorar: Permitirnos sentir completamente nuestras emociones.

Idea 4: Colaboración.

Cuando los jóvenes colaboran con sus comunidades y con el mundo que los rodea, se sienten bien con ellos mismos. Ayudar les otorga sentido a sus vidas y les da confianza para abordar sus propios problemas. Todos podemos hacer una diferencia real en la vida de las personas y aprovechar los beneficios.

Estas son algunas preguntas finales que debemos hacernos cuando consideramos fomentar estrategias saludables de afrontamiento en nosotros y en los jóvenes.

  • ¿Reconocemos que muchas de las conductas riesgosas que tienen los jóvenes representan intentos de reducir el estrés o dolor en sus vidas?
  • ¿Condenamos a los jóvenes por sus conductas? ¿Aumentamos su sensación de vergüenza y, en consecuencia, somos responsables de sus conductas?
  • ¿Guiamos a los jóvenes para que desarrollen estrategias de afrontamiento positivas y efectivas?
  • ¿Ayudamos a los jóvenes a comprender cuándo sus pensamientos son problemas exagerados? ¿Los ayudamos a evaluar la realidad objetivamente?
  • ¿Damos el ejemplo por medio de estrategias positivas de afrontamiento todos los días?
  • Mientras buscamos calmarnos para poder tomar las decisiones más justas y sabias, ¿damos el ejemplo sobre cómo tomar el control en lugar de responder de manera impulsiva?

Por más información visita este sitio web:

Stress Basics

What is Stress? — Review types of stress, sources of stress, and tips for managing stress.

Controlling Stress — Get tips for taking care of yourself and knowing when to seek help. Part of the Getting Through Tough Times series. English | español

Using What You Have to Get What You WantIowa State University Extension — Reduce stress and manage your resources by making six types of decisions: setting priorities, dealing with unexpected events, assessing resources, planning, carrying out the plan, and evaluating the outcomes. Available in English and Spanish.

Four Strategies for Preventing or Reducing Stress — Learn strategies to help you deal with stress.

Identifying Sources of Support and Friendship — Identify your support system to help get you through a crisis. Part of the Getting Through Tough Times series.

Communicating Under Pressure — During stressful times, it is easy to experience misunderstandings that sometimes result in adding more stress to the situation. Part of the Getting Through Tough Times series.

Grief and Crisis Decisions — Emotions tend to be strong after a stressful event or disaster. Know that this is normal.

Sad or Depressed? Know the Difference — Get to know the signs in determining if you are depressed and/or would benefit from professional help.

When Does Alcohol or Drug Use Become an Abuse? — Many people turn to alcohol or drugs when they are sad. Use this tool to get clarity on the situation and determine if you need help.

Online Courses

Dealing with Stress: A Web-based Educational Series — Online workshops help you identify and battle the stress. For those in agriculture or anyone experiencing stress.

Change: Loss, Opportunity and Resilience — How to cope with change and possibly see change as an opportunity. Includes a booklet and a free one-hour online course.

Staying Resilient in Times of Change — This free online course gives you tools to view change as an opportunity and to bounce back from unexpected changes.

Stress and Families

Parental Stress — Understand the interacting factors in family stress and the effects of stress on parents.

Family Problem Solving — Successful social decisions bring people closer together and improve future communication.

Helping Children Cope — Family communication and coping skills have a great impact on how your family deals with tough times. Part of the Getting Through Tough Times series.

Helping Children Manage StressIowa State University Extension — Tips to help children learn ways to handle new or frustrating situations and manage stress. Part of the Stress: Taking Charge series.

Growing Up Resilient Webinar — Discusses what resilience is and how we can build resilience in children.

Stress Management and TeensAmerican Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry — Review common sources of stress for teens and get tips that parents and teens can used to decrease stress in their lives.

Common Stresses for Parents of TeensIowa State University Extension — Find ways to manage new conflicts and stressors that develop as the parent-child relationship changes during the teen years. Part of the Stress: Taking Charge series.

Managing Stress in Young FamiliesIowa State University Extension — Find tips to manage time and money, resolve conflicts, plan food at home, and eat well. Part of the Stress: Taking Charge series.

Managing Stress in Midlife FamiliesIowa State University Extension — Find tips to manage when responsibilities for both older family members and your adult children "sandwich" you in and jeopardize your own mental and physical health. Part of the Stress: Taking Charge series.

Managing Stress in Later Life FamiliesIowa State University Extension — As your family grows older, new stresses can occur. This publication addresses changing relationships with your spouse, adult children, and grandchildren; managing resources; and dealing with grief and loss. Part of the Stress: Taking Charge series.

Helping Others Cope

Helping Friends in Trouble: Stress, Depression, and Suicide — We all feel overwhelmed at times. It's important to think about how to help yourself as well as a friend who comes to you.

Encouraging a Friend to Seek Professional HelpIowa State University Extension — Loss, grief, or depression can immobilize a person, making it hard for the individual to look realistically at a situation or to take action.

How to Help "When You Don’t Know What to Say"Iowa State University Extension — When a friend or relative experiences trouble, you may not know what to say or how to help; these tips can help in this situation.

Related Resources

Coping with Stress — Get tips for coping with your own stress following a disaster, and helping loved ones do the same.

Emotional and Social Changes — You may experience a range of emotions throughout a family transition. Likewise, you may discover that your social network has changed dramatically during the process. Find self-assessments and information to help you stay strong during this time of change.

Stress Symptoms, Signs, and CausesHELPGUIDE.ORG — Provides an overview of stress including signs, symptoms, causes, and effects.

The Road to ResilienceAPA Help Center, American Psychological Association — Online brochure that describes resilience and some factors that affect how people deal with hardship.

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