Navigating Life's Storms: Understanding and Managing Stress

We have all had days where something goes wrong. Your day might start off with spilling coffee all over yourself. Driving to work, you get a speeding ticket. The birth of a child or a wedding. We all experience stress, to some degree, in our daily life. From work, to busy schedules, from important relationships to our goals and dreams, we have competing priorities and it's a lot to keep on top of. But while a limited amount of stress is normal, and even healthy, continuous or severe stress can be very harmful to your physical and mental health.

Because all stress isn't the same and different types of stress affect us in ways that are somewhat different, it helps to understand the different types of stress and ways on how to deal with it.

Looking at what stress looks like; it is the body's reaction to any change that needs an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.

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Being able to cope with stress can help people to avoid negative consequences for their own well-being. We connect stress with two main coping strategies such as, direct coping which breaks down into three areas; confrontation, withdrawal, and compromise. and defensive coping. Defensive coping strategies work on many areas of stress such as; denial, projection, identification, displacement, repression, and reaction formation.

The impact of stress can do a lot to your mind and body. Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behaviors, thinking ability, and physical health.

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Stress is often a common feeling in many peoples lives. If not dealt with properly, it will feel like it is taking over your life. It is important to have a plan and manage it accordingly. Throughout this essay, I will be going deeper into context of the coping mechanisms, the impact of stress and a personal stress management plan.

Direct coping is the process of spending conscious effort and energy to solve personal and interpersonal problems. It also refers to intentional efforts to change an uncomfortable situation. Direct coping tends to be problem oriented and to focus on the immediate issue. When we feel threatened, frustrated, or in conflict, there are three basic choices for coping directly: confrontation, compromise, or withdrawal (A., Morris, & Maisto).

Looking at the areas we first look at confrontation; this strategy helps you look at problems in the eye. Being able to confront some stressful situations may mean you will have to change things in your life, find outside resources to help you deal with the stress. Using this strategy may work if it leads to self-confrontation. Unless a clinical intervention successfully gets clients to reassess their maladaptive assumptions, beliefs, or behaviors--and so moves them toward positive change--it's far more likely to impede than to advance the therapeutic process (Seltzer. Ph.D, 2008)

Confrontation can also be a good way to do intervention and can also open communication barriers that shut down the client. An example of utilizing the confrontation method would be, If Frank had been dealing with issues of leaving home for work, to a remote fly in community, he was stressed about flying and leaving his family for a month. He held that in since he found out he was going to work, didn't know how to confront his fears. Frank started to see a counsellor about trying to find ways to deal with the stress of leaving. For Frank to move forward, he would have to confront his fears of leaving and more so, leaving his family and work on coping strategies.

We then look at the compromise method, sometimes you must take what you get. The view on compromise is like a "win-win" solution where both people get some of what they want. However, counselors who hold this perspective tend to act more like arbiters than counselors, pressing people to compromise regardless of the psychological issues that fuel people's conflicts in the first place (Bedrick J.D., Dipl. PW, 2013). There will always need to be a compromise, at some point. But, if we ignore the objectives and the boundary conditions, it will be impossible to see a good compromise from a bad one. For example, you and your friend want to meet for lunch, the friend says to meet at 11:45am, you say it's a little too early and respond back with 12:00pm. The friend then agrees, in which is a compromise. Those who follow the compromise model might say, "Can't we get both sides to make a geographical solution, draw acceptable boundaries, and create a basic compromise?" (Bedrick J.D., Dipl. PW, 2013).

We move onto the withdrawal method and what it plays in the direct coping strategies. Withdrawal is when someone tends to escape or avoid situations that may be bothering them psychologically and or emotionally.

Now that we have talked about direct coping and what it entails, we now will move onto to the defensive coping strategies. Defence mechanisms are self-deceptive techniques for reducing stress, including denial, projection, identification, displacement, regression, and sublimation (A., Morris, & Maisto).

Denial is technique used when a person portrays something to be true. Example, if an alcoholic said he quit drinking but still smells of it, he is in denial. Projection is the acknowledgement to others of your negative self-concepts. This projection happens when you don't want to face negative self-concepts about your behaviors or intentions, and you do so by seeing them, in other people, instead (FitzMaurice, 2000-19). Example,

Identification is taking on the characteristics of someone else to avoid feeling incompetent (A., Morris, & Maisto). When a person is using this method, they feel they can't cope with what negative things that are going on in their lives. They feel the need to latch onto someone else's success to help them feel accomplished. An example can look at the anxiety and tension of how we feel around others reflects the way we perceive ourselves. When we are insecure or have low self-esteem, it is common to recognize the problem as being with other people and not ourselves. This is a classic form of projection that is common amongst those suffering from social anxiety.

Displacement is shifting repressed motives and emotions from an original object to a substitute object (A., Morris, & Maisto). Displacement is common. An example imagine that you had bad day at work, school, and you had taken that home to your family. Your family would feel and hear the displacement of his anger. All in all, your family became the subject to these feelings.

Regression is reverting to childlike behavior and defenses. Some psychologists say people regress because an adult cannot stand feeling helpless. Conversely, children feel helpless and dependent every day, so becoming more childlike can make total dependency or helplessness more bearable (A., Morris, & Maisto). An example of regression would be a child regress in their development when they are facing stressing situations, broken homelife. Or sometime a huge change, another baby in the home.

We all experience unwanted impulses or urges from time to time. Depends on how we deal with those feelings, acceptable or unacceptable. Sublimation is redirecting repressed motives and feelings into more socially acceptable channels (A., Morris, & Maisto). An example, you feel an urge to be unfaithful to your partner. Rather than act on these unacceptable urges, you channel your feelings into doing projects around the yard (Cherry, 2018).

Now that we talked about the direct coping and defense coping mechanisms, understanding and learning what it can do to your health is important in stress management. The impacts stress has on a human body can be minor to severe. To identify what stressors may be affecting your life is important, that way you will be find the proper techniques on how to manage stress. While it's easy to identify major stressors such as changing jobs, moving, or a going through a divorce, pinpointing the sources of chronic stress can be more complicated (Robinson, Smith. M.A.,, & Segal, M.A., 2019). With Chronic Stress the system does not turn off. As the situations that give rise to stress endure, they keep ramping up production of cortisol. You go into an inner Code Red, marked by anxiety, vigilance, and hyper alertness (Marano, 2003).

Physicians and psychologists agree that stress management is an essential part of programs to prevent disease and promote health (A., Morris, & Maisto). As a student, the negative effects of academic stress can lead to many kinds of problems and even potentially derail your goal of successfully completing your studies. There are short term effects that can include, tension, headache, irritability and with these effects it could possibly turn to long term affects such high blood pressure. Students feel a sense of needing to relieve stress, but with all the activities and responsibilities that fill a student's schedule, it's sometime hard to find ways to find ways to manage it. Poorly managed stress can be the cause of many types of health concerns for instance, your immune system. Scientists have long suspected that stress also affects the functioning of the immune system. (A., Morris, & Maisto).

Stress maybe a part of life, it is up to you to stay healthy. Staying healthy is the most important thing that one can do. A way to maintain good health is from exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough rest, and going for your regular physicals. Finding strategies that work for you and not having strategies could lead to a breakdown, but if you develop of good treatment plan you will be sure to manage stress successfully.

After taking time to asses my health and think about my priorities, the question became, how do I make these changes? Living a healthy lifestyle can help with stress relief and making healthy changes can be very challenging. Bringing my priorities to light, the main priority is eating healthier, exercise, and some meditation. Before I change the way, I eat, I will look at what I am eating now. Tracking what I eat will help me figure out my typical food choices and especially my portions. I hope this will also identify whether stressors or my emotions play a part in the way I eat and help me change my eating habits one at a time.

Exercising is one of the best things you can do for your health. It has many benefits, including improving your overall health. Finding time to exercise will be a challenge. To make it easier, I will start to plan it in my schedule like an appointment. I will use the treadmill and use my headphones to listen to eBook's for school to keep my mind busy while walking. I also plan to do other activities, like go bowling, hitch hiking, and swimming. While in the process of this change, my children will take part in it as well. I will record what I do for exercising and eating each day. I will do a weigh in, and do a weight check monthly. My goal is to lose 20 lbs by next summer.

Meditation will help me develop a healthier sense of perspective. I don't want to turn off my feelings or thoughts, I want to manage them and understand them without judging myself. Before I start to meditate, I will do some research on meditation and see what options I have for practice in Brandon. There are many benefits to mediation, gaining a new perspective on stressful situations, building skills to manage your stress, increasing self-awareness, focusing on the present, reducing negative emotions, increasing imagination and creativity, increasing patience and tolerance (Staff, 2019). With my plan I hope to figure out my stressors and a successful way to manage it. I also plan to share my plan with my family and hope they will get on board.

Having stress isn't a sign of weakness, nobody is immune to developing stress, but we fail to deal with it. Learning what a huge impact it has on the individual. Getting in depth with coping mechanisms and ways to manage them. Going through direct, defensive coping and how it breaks down what stage's individuals use. Living a healthier lifestyle is beneficial and is something everyone needs to do. Developing strategies to manage stress won't be easy or confronting what stressors have surfaced. Implementing a plan with such challenges will be a stressor, not knowing where to start. Find the right supports and educating yourself on successful ways to bring a healthier lifestyle in your life and that will make the transition seasier. When handling stressors, you can either change your situation or change your reactions. In fact, the simple realization that you're in control of your life is a foundation of managing stress. Stress in a nutshell.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Navigating Life's Storms: Understanding and Managing Stress. (2019, Dec 20). Retrieved from

Navigating Life's Storms: Understanding and Managing Stress essay
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