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Finding Hope Amid Stress

We all experience stress at some point in our lives and stress can be difficult to navigate or manage. Stress can originate from big life events such as losing a job, health-related concerns, a change in relationship status/divorce, or losing a loved one.

However, there are times in which people think they should only experience stress due to big events and lose sight of the day-to-day stress which can be just as detrimental if unaddressed. These background stressors are more likely to occur even more frequently and repetitively. Example of stress on a daily basis can include the following:

  • Relationship issues

  • Constant deadlines at work or school

  • Feeling isolated from others

  • Conflicts with friendships

  • Unexpected changes like getting a flat tire

  • Ongoing responsibilities/duties

The issue is that when stress is reoccurring, sometimes it becomes even more challenging for an individual to keep it from affecting other areas of their life whether that be with friends, interactions with family members, while in a professional environment or at work, or even with a partner. Likewise, the buildup of stress may manifest into emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and physical symptoms. These symptoms serve as warning signs that you are not handling your stress in effective ways, or it is becoming overwhelming. Some of the warning signs include the following symptoms:

Emotional symptoms of stress:

  • Anxiety

  • Low self-esteem/decreased confidence

  • Feeling overwhelmed or loss of control

  • Easily agitated or moody

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Lack of concentration

  • Decreased motivation

  • Indecisiveness, difficulty making decisions, or forgetfulness

  • Racing thoughts

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Change in appetite

  • Mood changes or irritability toward others

  • Sleep difficulties

  • Lack of motivation or neglecting responsibilities

Physical symptoms:

  • Racing heart

  • Fatigue or low energy

  • Nausea or upset stomach

  • Muscle tension

You may be doing your best to completely avoid stress by taking vacations, just going to sleep, or with distractions such as watching hours of Netflix on the couch and trying not to think about it. You just keep trying to get through each day as carefully as you can to avoid stress, but stress is unavoidable. The sooner you understand that the closer you can get to being able to manage it rather than resist it.

  • What can you do when the stress of life becomes reoccurring?

  • What do you do when the stress is too much to manage on your own?

The goal is to let out a little pressure along the way rather than letting it build until the top blows off. Rather than trying to avoid stress, let’s briefly talk about stress management and healthy strategies and coping skills to decrease stress. The following are a few strategies to begin making changes:

1. Reach out for support

This can look like a lot of different things for a lot of different people. Support could mean talking to a friend and just venting without feeling like a burden, opening up to family or a significant other, praying, meditating, journaling for a little self-reflection, connecting to support within your community, or reaching out to a professional counselor. Remember, it’s about how you manage stress that can make the difference.

2. Setting goals

Setting goals during these times can help you take control, feel more productive/effective, and less overwhelmed by responsibilities or deadlines. Setting a realistic and manageable goal each day that can be accomplished helps lift your spirit and improve motivation.

In the beginning, make the goal something easily achievable. After doing this for a while, start doing two goals a day and then begin challenging yourself a little more. Soon you will start to feel less overwhelmed and more able to put things into perspective.

The goal could be something as simple as making the bed, cleaning a room, sending in a resume, or reaching out to a friend. It is about taking realistic steps to get to where you want to be.

3. Take time for yourself

Sometimes chronic stress can be due to feeling like you do not have enough time in a day, which means that adding one more item to your to-do list can make you feel even more overwhelmed. If this is the case, then what should you do? I recommend sitting down and writing out a list of your top priorities. Make sure that one of your top priorities is time for yourself.

Everyone needs some time to themselves to recharge and release the burdens from the day. That could be done by taking a bubble bath or reading a book for fun. This could also be accomplished by going to bed a little early, relaxing without distractions, or taking a walk in nature. During this time, take time to just breathe. Without caring for yourself, it’ll be challenging to be present and prepared to manage other priorities effectively.

4. Acceptance/Positive Mindset

You might do all this, but each morning, once you return to work or return to the day-to-day tasks, there it is staring you in the face—stress. Stress is never going to go away; it will always be present in some form. Try to acknowledge and embrace it, without placing judgment.

Use self-reflection as a tool to keep things in perspective. With a clear mind, full acceptance, and a positive mindset, you can effectively problem-solve. So take a moment to step back and reflect:

  • What is actually causing stress?

  • What can you do to navigate or alter it? In other words, what can you control?

  • Does it even need to be altered?

Stress is not always a bad thing; it can be good, too. Stress can teach us where we have an opportunity to develop or improve. Stress can also move us to take action in areas of our lives where we would not have taken action otherwise. I am not saying that stress needs to become our best friend, but maybe every so often a welcomed acquaintance.

Acceptance of stress can also open the door to hope. Despite stress, what can we do to further our lives? What can we do to accept the loss of a job and continue to move forward?

To focus completely on stress causes us to lose sight of the possibilities of the future, which in turn, causes us to lose sight of who we are. Choose to push forward. Choose to not dwell in the negative but to hope in the future.

A licensed mental health professional or online counselor can assist you in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward if you feel like you are unable to function due to stress. We all struggle at times, but you are not alone!

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About Sam Nabil

Sam Nabil is the founder of Naya Clinics and is a Boston therapist and a Boston Marriage Counselor.

Sam offers therapy in Boston and Boston Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety. Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university, Yahoo News, USA Today,

Naya Clinics is a top-rated Marriage Counseling, therapy and Life coaching practice.

Naya Clinics offers Marriage Counselors near me, individual therapy near me, and life coaching near me in various locations across the USA and the world. Naya Clinics also offers Online marriage counseling, online therapy, and online life coaching.

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