Stress and Self-Care {Part I} 


We are surrounded by stress all the time. Many of us learned to live with it, but others struggle with managing stress. In order to maintain a happy and balanced life we need to cope and manage stress.


There are many great articles, videos and tips online, here I collected some that I find great.

How do you know when you are stressed?

Can you describe what you feel? A typical example that everyone can relate to is when we are in a hurry and we stand in a long grocery store line. We might even feel like screaming but we don’t do that of course. Or maybe it happens after the grocery store, at home when our partner or child repeats a question and we become inpatient or angry. It is not our partner or child whom made us feel this way, rather it was just an opportunity to let out some steam that built up in the grocery store.

In these situations our body gives a stress response (flight or fight). As a preparation for the stressful situation we mobilize our energy. And here comes the trick. Back in time we released this energy while hunting, but now we just drive back home and make a dinner which does not help us to let the bad energy out. We can see this mobilized energy erupting in a destructive way (see example: anger). It is important to recognize and understand the real stress. Knowing about it gives us a power to control it and to use it in a more constructive way (e.g. sport).

Keep in mind that stress is both universal and very personal at the same time. What stresses you out is different from what stresses your friend out.

The N.U.T.S. ingredients of stress are universal 

For a situation to be stressful it must contain one or more of following elements:

NOVELTY Something new you have not experienced before

UNPREDICTABILITY Something you had no way of knowing it would happen

THREAT TO THE EGO Your competence as a person is called into question

SENSE OF CONTROL You feel no or little control over the situation

So,the million dollar question:

How do we cope with stress?

We either eliminate stress from our life, or we learn to live with it. Unfortunately the first option is impossible so we have to stick with the second one.



A situation is stressful if you find it stressful. You have a right to feel N.U.T.S.. As mentioned above, stress is very individual and personal. Everyone deals with stress in their own way. Some become aggressive, others withdraw and others thrive on stress. This variable response is a reason why there is no universal stress-management technique!

What is coping?

Coping are the thoughts and actions we use to deal with stressful situation. There are two different coping strategies; Problem-focused and Emotion-focused.

  1. Problem-focused:  We focus on the problem and we use active ways to solve it.
  2. Emotion-focused: To handle the distress, we focus on the feelings.

Keep in mind that both strategies of coping with stress are equally good. If you want to go a step further, it becomes important to develop different strategies to adapt to different situations.

Now that we understand stress and we are able to recognize it and we also know about different coping strategies for managing stress, we just need to find the strategy that works the best for us. Then… we need to apply it daily! When we manage stress appropriately, we are practicing self-care. We choose to act in a constructive way which helps us to take care of ourselves.


In the second part of this blog series on Stress and Self-Care, I will describe how stress can be our friend and I will give you some tips for practicing self-care.

Need guidance to find out your stress management technique? Or to practice self-care? Let me know!


Erika Szilagyi is from Hungary. She moved to the Netherlands 6 years ago. She is a Psychologist & Life Coach. She helps people make their life a great one. Send her an e-mail!

More strategies and examples in the links below:


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