In our society, it's nearly impossible to avoid becoming stressed out at some point or another. Although the mere mention of the word "stress" provokes feelings of negativity, it begs mentioning that not ALL forms of stress are bad. Making a distinction between good stress and bad stress is actually very helpful in overcoming the overwhelming feeling that many of us experience, or probably have experienced before.
At its worst, stress can be crippling. At it's best, it can be motivating. Distress is the type most of us are familiar with, and certainly the element that clouds the ability to think clearly and function optimally. Eustress, on the other hand, occupies the other end of the spectrum. This type drives us to make a lifestyle change, drives us to make a decision that would otherwise be put off in its absence, and motivates us to a positive end.
For the sake of this article, I'll highlight a few simple means of eliminating, or at least decreasing distress. Some, perhaps even most of these speak for themselves.
1) Identify what is causing the stress
It's vital to examine where, from whom or what, the stress comes from. Often times, it's as simple as figuring out what the source happens to be, and getting rid of it or minimizing exposure to that situation or person. The philosophy of "just dealing with it", though to some extent may still have merit, is largely old guard and absurd. If you're exposing yourself to something or someone overwhelmingly unpleasant without some benefit at least equal to that measure of frustration, it's not only illogical to prolong exposure, it's also unhealthy! There's nothing virtuous about continued suffering. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away.
Contrary to more old guard philosophy, sleep is actually good for dealing with stressful issues. There is a lot of speculation, though not nearly enough studies done on the roles that sleep, dreams, and rest play in how we function in our waking existence. As it relates to stress, some theorize that sleep helps deconstruct and sort out what happens during the day; sort of a defragmentation process that occurs automatically. In short, it's okay to relax, and it's okay to get some sleep! Admittedly, very little gets done while you're snoozing, but at the same time, there is little to be achieved by running yourself ragged day in and day out.
3) Healthy lifestyle choices
This is a bit of common sense too, but worth mentioning. Maintaining a healthy diet, balancing work and the daily grind with exercise and recreation, and meditation (tie that one in with the "rest" segment) all assist in coping with stress. As humans, we are creatures of habit, prone to adapting to an infinite number of situations and functioning according to the needs of those situations. Stressful ones included. The trade-off, however, in spite of how fascinating it is to be highly adaptive, is that acclimating to stress as a lifestyle shortens lifespan, increases health risks, decreases quality of life and, simply put, isn't much fun.
4) Know when to get help
The mind is capable of an incredible number of things, including the fabrication of convincing rationalizations to preserve the perceived comfort of a detrimentally stressful, unhealthy situation. If you're to a point where not only are you feeling overwhelmed, but relationships, goals, and other aspects of your life are strained (or suffering) as a result, don't be averse to talking to a trained professional. In addition to being creatures of habit, we're creatures of community as well. Not surprisingly, in an age of technologically-induced isolation, we're witnessing an unprecedented demand for mental health professionals of all fields and a boom in the reduce-your-stress-level market. We're junkies for stress. But as with all things (especially in reference to addiction), when other aspects of your life are suffering, it is definitely time to consider help.