Handling Stress In the Moment

Small amounts of stress can help you accomplish difficult tasks. However, too much acute stress, or sustained chronic stress, can be harmful. Stress management techniques help reduce your overall level of stress. Tools to manage stress often include things like meditation, relaxation techniques, and talking to a medical professional; these are effective ways to reduce stress levels, but they don’t necessarily help you while you’re in the middle of a stressful experience. So what can you do to manage stress in the moment?

Stress management techniques often center on reducing the overall amount of stress in your life, but what should you do in moments of stress? Click To Tweet

Stress isn’t always bad, but it can be harmful

Stress is how your body responds to uncomfortable circumstances. When you’re under stress, your body releases hormones that increase brain activity and muscle tension, and elevate your pulse. This response can help you overcome challenging situations.

It’s when you experience stress for an extended amount of time, or acute stress is overwhelming, that stress becomes a problem.

There are several health issues associated with chronic stress: obesity, hypertension, sleep problems, anxiety, irritability, stomach ulcers, and depression are just a few. People who experience sustained stress may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as tobacco, alcohol, or drug use.

Acute stress is common and usually mild; you may experience manageable moments of stress on a daily basis. However, some people have stronger reactions to stress:

  • aggressive or irrational behavior
  • poor judgment and decision making
  • inability to think or focus
  • physical symptoms such as headaches, chest pain or abdominal pain, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, and heart palpitations

Managing stress and avoiding stress triggers can help reduce negative responses to stress. However, you can’t always prevent stressful situations from occurring.

Manage your stress in the middle of a stressful situation

Have a few techniques ready to help you manage stressful moments.


Close your eyes and take five deep breaths, count to ten, or think through three different possible responses to a stressful situation before speaking or reacting.

Excuse yourself

Sometimes just removing yourself from a stressful situation and giving yourself the space to think clearly can help defuse a stressful moment.

Be aware

Recognize that you are under stress. Identifying that you’re stressed can help you adjust your response to stress.

Be calm

Try to act and respond in a calm, collected manner even if you are upset. Staying calm will be more natural and feel like less of an act over time.

Be positive

A positive mindset is a powerful thing. Instead of focusing on the problem and thinking negative thoughts, put a positive spin on things. Is there a silver lining to the situation? A positive attitude can help pull you out of a stressful moment.

Choose joy

Think of things that make you happy: a funny memory, your favorite vacation, the most beautiful place you’ve ever been. 


Memorize a phrase that brings you peace and comfort. It can be your favorite Bible verse, words of wisdom from a philosopher, or an ancient proverb.

While stress is a normal part of life, it’s important to know to seek help for stress. Talk to your doctor if you feel like stress is getting in the way of your daily life.