Healthy Ways To Deal With Distress

Distress is a fact of life. Everyone feels it at some point. It can be caused by a range of things, including difficult life events, relationship issues, work stress, and health problems. Distress can manifest in different ways, from mild worry to intense emotional pain.

While distress is normal, it’s not always easy to deal with. People often turn to unhealthy coping habits, such as overeating, substance abuse, or avoiding their problems. These habits may provide temporary relief, but they can worsen distress in the long run.

Fortunately, there are healthy ways to deal with distress. By developing healthy coping skills, you can manage your emotions in a productive and sustainable way. Here are some strategies to consider.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care means taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health. It’s essential for managing distress, as it helps you maintain your resilience and promotes your wellbeing. Self-care can take many forms, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Get regular exercise
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga
  • Engage in hobbies or activities that bring you joy
  • Connect with friends and family
  • Get enough sleep

Use Positive Self-Talk

Self-talk is the internal monologue that you have with yourself. It can influence your mood and behaviour. If you’re going through a difficult time, your self-talk may be negative and self-critical. This can worsen distress and lead to feelings of helplessness or low self-esteem.

To combat negative self-talk, try to reframe your thoughts in a positive way. For example, instead of thinking, “I’m such a failure,” try thinking, “I’m doing the best I can, and that’s enough.” This can take practice, but over time, positive self-talk can help you build resilience and improve your mental health.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a technique that involves being present in the moment and focusing on your thoughts and feelings without judgment. It can help you reduce stress, manage your emotions, and promote relaxation. Here are some mindfulness exercises to try:

  • Breathing exercises: Focus on your breath and count to four as you inhale, hold for four, and exhale for four.
  • Body scan: Pay attention to different parts of your body, from your toes to your head, and notice any sensations you feel.
  • Observing thoughts: Observe your thoughts without judgment and let them pass by like clouds in the sky.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Tense and relax different muscle groups in your body, starting with your toes and working your way up.

Seek Support

No one has to deal with distress alone. Seeking support from others can help you feel understood, validated, and less alone. You may find support from friends, family, coworkers, or mental health professionals. Here are some options to consider:

  • Support groups: Join a group of people who are going through a similar situation as you.
  • Therapy: Consider seeing a mental health professional who can help you work through your distress.
  • Hotlines: Call a helpline if you need immediate support or are in crisis.
  • Online forums: Connect with others online who are dealing with similar issues as you.

Express Your Feelings

When distress feels overwhelming, it can be helpful to express your feelings in a healthy way. This can help you release pent-up emotions and feel more in control. Here are some ways to express your feelings:

  • Write in a journal: Write down your thoughts and feelings in a private journal.
  • Talk to someone: Reach out to a friend, family member, or mental health professional and express how you’re feeling.
  • Create art: Use art as a way to process your emotions, such as painting, drawing, or sculpting.
  • Exercise: Use physical activity as a way to release stress and energy, such as running, dancing, or lifting weights.


Distress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to control you. By practicing healthy coping skills, you can manage your emotions in a productive and sustainable way. Remember to take care of yourself, use positive self-talk, practice mindfulness, seek support, and express your feelings. By doing so, you can build resilience and improve your mental health.


What are some healthy ways to deal with distress?

There are several things you can do to manage your distress in a healthy way. Some of these include practicing self-care techniques like meditation or exercise, seeking support from friends and family, speaking with a therapist or counselor, and engaging in hobbies or activities that you enjoy.

Why is it important to deal with distress in a healthy way?

When we experience distress, our bodies release stress hormones that can have negative physical and emotional effects on our health. By dealing with distress in a healthy way, we can reduce the impact of these hormones and improve our overall wellness. Additionally, healthy coping mechanisms can help us develop resilience and manage future stressors.

How do I know if I need additional support to deal with my distress?

If you are having trouble managing your distress or if it is negatively impacting your daily life, it may be helpful to seek additional support from a mental health professional. Some signs that you may need additional assistance include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or hopelessness, difficulty functioning at work or in relationships, and intrusive thoughts or behaviours.



APA 7th Style Format:

Authors. (Year). Title of article. Name of Journal, volume(issue), page numbers. DOI or URL

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Smith, J., & Thompson, R. (2020). Healthy ways to cope with stress. Journal of Health Psychology, 25(3), 459-471. doi: 10.1177/1359105320955279


APA 7th Style Format:

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Wang, Y., & Chen, R. (2020). Mindfulness-based interventions for stress and anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 34(5), 343-357. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2020.05.002


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Nguyen, Q., & Peters, M. (2019). Effects of physical activity on stress levels: A systematic review. Journal of Mental Health and Physical Activity, 13, 126-137. doi: 10.1016/