You are currently viewing Coping With Stress

Coping With Stress

We all face stress; work stress, debt stress, stress over our health, the pandemic and more. To cope with stress we need to think about how we think about stress.

Let’s consider some ways we can adjust our thinking about stress, and find better ways to cope and perhaps even reduce our stress levels.


Stress about money, money problems and debt is extremely common. Concerns about money often lead to the break-up of families, poor performance at work and sleeping problems.

One thing that we can do to adjust how we think about debt stress is to consider who has the problem. 

If you loan your friend, R1000 and they cannot pay you back when you need the money, who has the bigger problem? You, who gave the money and now needs it back; or Them, who spent the money and now really cannot pay you back, at this time? The person who loaned the money, but now needs it back, has the real problem. This is true in most creditor/debtor situations.

If you have borrowed money from the bank, and made use of those funds to buy things, but now cannot repay them, the bank is the one with the real problem, not you. This is why collections agents and the courts are used to attempt to shift the problem from them onto you. Repeated calls and pestering is an effective way to get you to think the problem is primarily yours, when in fact, it is mostly the credit provider’s problem.

Thinking about things in this way can help you adjust your view of your situation, and lower your stress levels, while you make reasonable plans to repay the debt.


Each day we are confronted by things (small or large) that stress us out. It is best to focus on these immediate stressors, and not go about adding to these things by worrying about future things that may never actually happen.

Sure, you can somewhat influence the future by making wise decisions now, but you cannot control how others will act. You cannot control what the Corona Virus might do or how governments might adjust legislation or how credit providers might behave.

Rather, it is best to deal with the actual issues in front of you today.

Do not weigh your brain down by worrying over things that you cannot control and might never actually happen.


We often have high standards for ourselves and others. Sometimes, however, these standards can be too high and unrealistic. These high expectations could cause us to become unhappy with ourselves or with others when they always fall short of our expectations.

It is better to set reasonable standards for yourself. Know your limitations and live up to them, only then try to see if you can go a little beyond them. You would not ask a baby to do backflips at the Olympics, would you? That would be unrealistic.

Over time, as you slowly learn and grow, you can adjust and set new realistic goals and standards for yourself and others.

Try to keep a positive, forgiving attitude and maintain a sense of humour about things, especially when times are tough.


One key in learning to cope with your stress is to learn to identify what it is that is stressing you.

Some of the main causes of stress may seem obvious to you: debt, work, family. But that’s very vague. Many people have debt and are not stressed about it. Many people work a lot but love their jobs. Many people have big families but do not get stressed by them.

So, it helps to be more specific, what exactly at work is stressful, which part of the workday? What specific behaviour by family members causes you to feel stressed out?

It is also important to note that what stresses one person may not be stressful to the next. You are an individual and your stress is unique.

So, you can’t rely on others to identify your causes of stress, you need to take some time and think about it.

Once you know exactly what it is that stresses you out (in the different parts of your life) then you can start to make plans to reduce your exposure to these sources of stress.


Our brains secretly like things to be organised. We find it pleasing to be in a neat and tidy house or room. We even like people whose faces are balanced and symmetrical.

Our brains also like things not only start but get finished. Disorder, in our surroundings or our daily routine, can be a big background source of stress.

Try to get organised, make a schedule, stick to it. Make a list of all the many things you need to get done and when you finish something, tick it off. This will help you better manage your stress and avoid being overwhelmed by too many things going on at once.

Having a list will also help you to choose which things are most urgent and most important and which things you can leave to another time. This is especially helpful if you tend to procrastinate.

Once you know exactly what it is that stresses you out (in the different parts of your life) then you can start to make plans to reduce your exposure to these sources of stress.


If you work all the time, your family life will suffer. If you play all the time your finances will suffer. So, try to find a balance between work and relaxation.

People who eat healthily, sleep well and have good relationships with others, tend to be more productive and effective at their jobs (even in shorter periods).

Doctors will tell you that a little exercise goes a long way to having good mental health. Eating and living healthy can help you avoid many common traps, like returning to bad habits to try to deal with stress.

If you find your mental health is very poor, and you are having negative thoughts all the time, then speak to a friend and a medical professional. Don’t delay getting help, seeking help is a smart move and not a failure.


As mentioned earlier there are benefits to making lists, they can help you to quickly set priorities.

We often make lists and priorities in the back of our minds. Which is more important to pay? Your home loan or your short term loan? Your brain will quickly compare the two, as well as, the consequences

of not paying and tell you to protect the place where you live.

Making a list on paper (or digitally) will help you see all the things you need to accomplish and decide which ones need to be done today, tomorrow, next week or never. Cross off the ones you complete, and then make a fresh list in a day or two and reorganise the items left over. Some people do this daily and it helps them a lot!

Be sure to schedule a time to relax, taking short breaks can energise you and reduce stress.


If you are very stressed, then your family and friends can be a great comfort. Finding someone you can trust and who is a good listener is very helpful in reducing stress.

Why not ask people to help you with some of your many tasks or with your workload? Even your kids can help around the house with small things, which will make life easier.

If one of your work colleagues is a source of stress, can you have a calm conversation with them in a relaxed environment and talk about the exact reasons why they cause stress and ask them if you are stressing them out? If you can’t get that right, you can always try to adjust things so you deal with them less often.

As mentioned previously, if you are too stressed out and cannot deal with things on your own, get professional assistance. For example, if your debt is stressing you out, why not talk to a professional Debt Counsellor. Having relationship problems? Have you spoken to a counsellor? Do you need medical assistance to deal with your stress? Ask for help if you need it.


When you feel overwhelmed by too many things it can be very stressful.

If however you can sit down and make a list of things you need to get done, can take time to identify exactly what things are stressing you out, and can then adjust your day-to-day routine to deal with those issues, you will feel a lot more in control.

Talking to a friend or professional can also help you see things from a different perspective. If you need help and get the assistance you need, it will also greatly reduce your stress levels.

We can’t avoid all forms of stress, but by taking a few practical steps, you can reduce and manage the things in your life that cause you stress.