Here Are The Weird Ways We Cope With Stress

A recent stress study by the American Psychological Association put together a profile of the most stressed-out person in America: she’s a mom in her late 20s or early 30s who makes less than $50,000 a year, and she probably needs a hug. The study found that women are more stressed than men in general, and that Americans tend to channel stress into sedentary behavior like watching TV or spending time on the internet. For most people, those habits don’t exactly provide a healthy outlet, but few of us were taught growing up how to manage stress constructively, so we tend to develop our own weird coping mechanisms over time. Aside from your run-of-the-mill meditation, cardio, or other typically recommended behaviors of “self care,” here are some semi-bizarre ways we cope with stress – some of which may be helpful to you, and some of which simply add to the energy drain.


“I have 3 healthy coping methods:

-Going to museums by myself (that is crucial; other people get in the way and are too anxious to speed up the trip) to stare at artworks for 10-20 minutes at a time.
-Going to the lakefront and watching the lake for 15-30 minutes at a time, usually first thing in the morning (like 5 am), also by myself, because other people want to talk and shit. And this includes during the winter when everything is a giant ice cube on the lakefront. It’s worth it.
-Going to the gym, if I’m not so stressed out that I’m genuinely on the verge of emotional collapse, because then physical exertion just makes it worse. Otherwise it’s great.
What is with other people, anyway, sheesh.
-Picking at my lips
-Scratching at pimples
-Tearing the tips of my nails off
-Picking at the callused skin on my feet DON’T JUDGE ME
-Looking at real estate listings in other cities (the saddest form of escapism)
-Um, eating, duh
-Formerly, unloading my furor onto unwitting Twitter bigots”


“I’ve come to realize that a lot of my stress is self-imposed and work-related, so I’ve started to create some boundaries that have really helped — on the weekends, I try really hard not to work at all and to detach a certain amount from the things that remind me of work, like email. I’ll check it once or twice, but I don’t leave the email window up on my browser and I don’t check it on my phone. Even if nothing stressful is happening with work, being tapped into work 24/7 is stressful on its own.

Otherwise, I’m a big time stress cleaner. If I’ve got anxiety, tidying up my home helps to calm me. I also relieve stress by weaving, smoking weed (everything is allll goooooood mannnnnn), getting lost in Reddit or Wikipedia k-holes, hate reading xoJane comments and binge-watching television. Basically ESCAPISM IS HOW I DEAL.

I also used to pick my feet and my scalp. Now I pick the scab inside my left nostril until it bleeds.”


“Some of my weird ones are picking at nail polish (or sunburn), thinking out elaborate daydreams based on whatever music I’m listening to, ironing large batches of clothes that I don’t have any immediate plans to wear and then hanging them back up, doing weird calf stretches, moving all my to-do lists onto one BIG list and then grouping them by random categories, trying weird infomerical-type beauty products…what especially helps me (when the weather isn’t freezing) is going outside, that tends to put things into perspective better. Sometimes if it’s the kind of thing I have time to slowly react to I’ll start some kind of cooking project with a friend, that’s one of the only times during a rough patch that being around another person decreases my stress instead of adding to it. I also sometimes go the cliche route and turn to yoga or running when I’m stressed, but that sometimes plays out in a more unhealthy way than anything because when you’re emotionally worked up it’s easy to push too hard and not think about how your body is feeling.


“I think the thing with stress that’s important is to identify whatever the fuck it is that’s bothering you, and then dismantle it, piece by piece. It doesn’t have to be a drawn out process. Just acknowledge that you’re stressed out, get to the root of what it is and then tell yourself repeatedly that none of it matters. Actually, that’s the key. No one really cares about anything except for YOU. So if your stress is rooted in the opinions of other people, remind yourself that you’re gucci, and move ahead.

When I’m feeling stressed out and no manner of bullshit fake-Zen will ease my pain, I smoke a cigarette, drink a beer and root around my vanity for the Xanax. Then, I’ll try on lipstick at home, and go to bed. Works every time.”


“My stress coping stuff is mostly just smoking and drinking and taking Lorazepam. Oh, and bingewatching Netflix. I mean, technically, I know some stuff from my mom about how to deal with general anxiety. Sometimes I just call her and have her walk me through it. Basically, you take the thing that you are irrationally worried about, break it down, figure out the worst possible consequences and how you’d deal with those. I find it helpful.”

Share your own coping tricks in the comments!


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