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Stress Management: How Do I Manage My Stress Without Medication? (2022)

Stress Management: How Do I Manage my Stress Without Medication? -Stressed out? Learn how to get a grip on stress. Managing your stress effectively allows you to be happier, healthier and more productive.

In this article:

  1. What is stress?

  2. Why am I experiencing stress?

  3. Types of Stress

  4. Why do I feel stressed all the time?

  5. Reasons for Persistent or Chronic Stress

  6. What are some common causes of stress?

  7. What are the effects of stress?

  8. Physical symptoms of stress

  9. Mental and emotional symptoms of stress

  10. How does prolonged stress impact my health?

  11. How long does stress last?

  12. Stress vs. Burnout

  13. How can I manage my stress?

  14. Tips on how to manage stress

  15. Stress Management vs. Self-Care

  16. What are some stress management strategies?

  17. When should I talk to a professional about my stress?

  18. Where can I seek help for my stress?

  19. How much does it cost to seek help for stress?

  20. Am I able to use insurance to claim for stress treatment?

  21. Diagnosing for Stress

  22. Stress vs. Anxiety

  23. Stress vs. Depression

  24. When do I have to take medication for my stress?

  25. Stress Reduction Checklist

  26. Stress FAQs

What is stress?

Stress is a natural reaction to pressure that occurs in everyone. [1] In fact, the human body is designed to experience and respond to stress. When you face changes or challenges (stressors), your body responds to these stresses physically and mentally.

Why am I experiencing stress?

Stress responses assist your body in adapting to new situations. Stress can be beneficial in that it keeps us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger.

If there is an important job interview coming up, a stress response can help your body work harder and stay awake for longer periods of time. However, stress becomes an issue when stressors persist without relief or periods of relaxation. [2]

Types of Stress

There are a few types of stress. These can be classified into:

  • Acute Stress

  • Episodic Stress

  • Chronic Stress

Acute Stress

Everyone experiences acute stress. It is the body's immediate response to a new and difficult situation. The same form of stress is exhibited when you narrowly avoid a car accident.

Acute stress can also result from doing something you enjoy. It is that thrilling sensation you get when skiing down a snowy mountain or riding on a roller coaster at an amusement park. [3]

These brief bouts of acute stress are usually harmless. They might even be beneficial to your health. Stressful situations train your body and brain to respond in the best way possible in future stressful situations. Once the threat has passed, the body’s systems will return to normal. [4]

Episodic Stress

Episodic stress occurs when you experience more frequent bouts of acute stress. If you are from certain professions like a police officer or a firefighter, these high levels of stress might exhibit itself frequently. [5]

As with acute stress, episodic stress can impact your health and mental well-being in the long-term.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress is when you experience persistent stress for an extended period of time. Long-term stress like this can impact your health negatively and contribute directly to physical ailments. [6]

Why do I feel stressed all the time?

Most of our stresses are self-inflicted. While this might not be true of all people, there are some reasons why you are feeling persistent stress:

You may also wish to read "The Science of Stress: 5 Ways To Reduce Your Allostatic Load"

Reasons for Persistent or Chronic Stress

Persistent or chronic stress is when you experience prolonged and constant periods of stress. These feelings of stress can be caused by everyday pressures from family, work, or traumatic events. [7] Some chronic stress can be brought on by the following:

  • Staying constantly busy as a distraction technique

  • Lack of assertiveness to deal and manage stress

  • Managing stress instead of the root problem - your stressors

Staying constantly busy as a distraction technique

Many of us stay busy to keep ourselves in denial of other problems in our life. While staying busy helps with feeling good in the moment, they are not a solution to our problems. Instead, being constantly busy can put a tremendous strain on our body and mind. This can lead to persistent stress. [8]

Lack of assertiveness to deal and manage stress

Assertiveness is when we uphold our values and make the decision to pursue what matters to us even when it comes at the expense of what is good and easy in the moment. [9]

Assertiveness matters as it helps to protect yourself from stress by asking for support when you need it and building confidence to undertake challenges.

When we are in a work environment, assertiveness can help us to say no to additional projects than we are capable of handling and avoid feelings of inadequacy and guilt if we reject those additional projects. [10]

Managing stress instead of the root problem - your stressors

If you are constantly stressed, it is necessary to sit yourself down and ask yourself - What is the real reason for my stress?

Take for example, if you are constantly stressed out at work, it is possible to relieve stress by taking on stress management techniques such as breathing exercises. It is possible that your stress levels will decrease a little. However, this does not mean that you have solved the root problem - which might be the amount of work that you are taking on.

What are some common causes of stress?

Some typical causes of stress include:

  • Work

  • School

  • Relationships

  • Family

  • Motherhood

  • Life Changes

  • Health

  • Finances

What are the effects of stress?

The effects of stress are well documented. Some of the effects of stress are exhibited in the following:

Physical symptoms of stress

  • Body aches

  • Phantom limb pain

  • Muscle spasms

  • Muscle tightness

  • Chest pains and tightness

  • Racing heart

  • Headaches and dizziness

  • High blood pressure

  • Stomach cramping

  • Low sex drive

  • Weakened immune system

  • Fluctuations in weight loss or weight gain

  • Hair Loss

Mental and emotional symptoms of stress

Chronic stress

  • Excessive drinking

  • Addictions: Drug addictions, Gambling addictions, Alcohol addictions

  • Developing an eating disorder

  • Compulsive behaviours in sex, internet usage or shopping

  • Excessive smoking

How does prolonged stress impact my health?

Your prolonged stress can deplete your body, leaving you feeling tired and anxious. You may be working harder than ever to make ends meet, and making unhealthy food and exercise choices, which can make you feel worse. [11] This can result in a variety of potential complications related to prolonged stress such as:

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Eczema

  • Heart Disease

  • Ulcers

  • Acne

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Hyperthyroidism

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Weight Changes

  • Reduced Libido

How long does stress last?

Stress can be a short-term issue if identified, intervened and managed well. The best way to deal with stress is to ensure that you can recognise the causes of your stresses. Identifying the root causes of your stress is the first step to managing stress effectively.

Stress vs. Burnout

Stress comes and goes. Stress is easier to manage, and it can usually be pinned down to a specific situation or person. Individuals who are stressed can imagine themselves feeling better once everything is under control.

Burnout, on the other hand, can be extremely difficult to detect because it manifests itself subtly and gradually. Burnouts do not happen after a couple of bad days. Unlike stress, burnouts make us feel hopeless. Burnouts can make you feel like the old happier you have vanished, leaving behind a shell of yourself. [12]

How can I manage my stress?

To manage your stress, there are some simple things you can do:

Tips on how to manage stress

  • Exercise regularly

  • Deep breathing and meditation exercises

  • Eating healthily

  • Slow down and take a break

  • Make time for yourself and your hobbies

  • Talk about your problems

  • Eliminate stressors

Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly will help to improve your mood and relax your body and mind. To reap the benefits of exercise, it is necessary to do it often and consistently. Focus on setting tangible short, mid and long-term fitness goals for yourself that you will be able to achieve. Getting a friend or family member to accompany you to fulfil your fitness goals can often help you to stay motivated and focused. Some examples of physical activity that can help with relaxation are:

  • Yoga

  • Pilates

  • Tai Chi

Deep breathing and meditation exercises

Breathing and meditation exercises can be integrated into your everyday routine to take the pressure off you almost immediately. You can even begin right away with these few steps:

  1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your hands in your lap.

  2. Close your eyes and relax your body.

  3. Notice how you begin to be more aware of how your body is rising and falling to your breathing.

  4. Imagine yourself in a place where you feel relaxed and calm.

  5. Take a few slow deep breaths in and out.

  6. Do this for 5 to 10 minutes.

Eat healthily

Having a balanced meal will increase energy levels and help you feel better. A healthy diet can even improve your moods. A balanced meal will include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein. It is important not to skip any meals. Skipping meals can make you feel lethargic and result in a bad mood, which can increase your stress levels.

Slow down and take a break

Before you say that it is impossible to take a break due to your packed schedule, hear us out. There are small ways that you can slow down to take a break. These are some tips that we use to help us gain control over our time and manage our stress levels:

  1. Break down big tasks into smaller ones. Prioritise them in order of most important and most challenging to least challenging ones. Complete the most challenging and pressing ones first.

  2. Take an hour off in the middle of a busy day. This helps you recalibrate and come back fresher.

  3. Set your watch 5 to 10 minutes faster to create additional pockets of time for yourself. Doing so helps you be punctual and avoid the stress of being late.

  4. Do nothing when having your meals. Focusing on one thing at a time reduces stress and helps you enjoy a moment of peace and quiet without stress.

  5. Use the Pomodoro method to schedule windows of break time into your busy life.

Make time for yourself and your hobbies

Try setting aside time for things that you enjoy doing. Doing something every day that makes you happy will keep you feeling good, which will help relieve stress. These activities do not have to take up a lot of your time. Dedicating 15 - 20 minutes a day on leisure activities can be life-changing. Some relaxing activities can include things like:

  • Reading

  • Scrapbooking or Journalling

  • Playing a game

  • Streaming a movie

  • Going for a walk

Talk about your problems

When something is bothering you, try sharing your problems with someone. Talking about your problems can help alleviate stress.

If talking about your problems with others sounds a tad too personal, you can also talk to yourself. Self-talk helps you to straighten out your thoughts and feelings. For self-talk to help reduce your stress, you need to make sure that it stays positive and not negative.

Instead of saying “I can’t do this,” tell yourself that “I can do this” or “I have done the best I can.” Positive affirmations can motivate you to change your negative thought patterns into positive ones and help you feel more positive about yourself.

Eliminate stressors

  • Find out the cause of the stressors

  • Getting rid of toxic people in your life

  • Reduce clutter in your environment

  • Identify burnout-inducing aspects in your job

  • Conquer self-defeating thoughts

Stress Management vs. Self-Care

Stress Management


Works long term

Provides instant relief

Changes your relationship with stress

Helps you cope with stress

​Can be considered as ‘Prevention’

Can be considered as a ‘Solution’

Self-care is an important aspect of stress management. Taking care of yourself will help maintain your physical, emotional and mental state to manage stress effectively and efficiently. Having a well cared for body is not just about heading on pampering spa retreats or going on a weekend cruise massage. Self-care is about building up resilience. This means making long-term lifestyle changes that can be difficult to begin and retain without effort. [13]

You may also wish to read "What Is Self-Care: Why It Is Important and Tips to Take Care Of Yourself"

Lifestyle changes

Building habits and routines that can help you manage your stress starts with small lifestyle changes. Here are some simple and fuss-free steps you can take to change your lifestyle and break the stress cycle:

Physical Fitness

Regular exercise is an excellent way to maintain a healthy weight, manage overall stress, and stay connected with others. Exercise can also help keep a variety of health problems at bay. [14] The key to maintaining consistency is to start slowly and work your way up. To start, work with the following:

  1. Set a goal for yourself - amount of time you would like to spend on physical fitness.

  2. Schedule a fixed time into your calendar each week for accountability. You can start with just 10 minutes a day and work your way up whenever you are comfortable.

  3. Invite a friend or family member to head on these fitness journeys with you.

  4. Reward yourself once you have completed your activity.

  5. Repeat the cycle every week.

Nutrition and Diet

Eating healthily can do wonders. Switching to a healthier diet can improve your appearance, and energy levels, which can then increase your self-esteem. The effects of increased self-esteem can improve your stress levels. [15]

  1. Allocate healthy days and cheat-days. Increase the quantity of your healthy days gradually.

  2. Create a simple meal plan that has some of your favourite foods.

  3. Substitute high-fat, high-sugar, high-sodium options for healthier alternatives.

  4. Repeat the same meal planning routine every week.

  5. Reward yourself for eating healthier with small snacks that you enjoy.


We frequently underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep and the right kind of sleep. Not getting enough sleep has a slew of negative consequences that are subtle but significant. [16]

Stress can deprive you of sleep, which makes it more important to learn how to get quality sleep even when you are stressed. Follow the simple steps below to start building a sleep routine:

  1. Set a targeted fixed time to head to bed every night.

  2. Avoid all caffeinated drinks before heading to sleep.

  3. Avoid use of electronic devices at least 1 hour before heading to sleep.

  4. Practice 5 - 10 minutes of meditation before bed.

  5. Dim all lights.

  6. Repeat the same cycle every night.

  7. Reward yourself for heading to bed at the same time each night.

What are some stress management strategies?

Here are a few ideas for managing stress.

  1. Prioritise and Organise your tasks - It will assist you in focusing while avoiding distractions, ensuring that your work is completed efficiently and effectively.

  2. Eat right - A balanced diet can help counteract the negative effects of stress on our physical health.

  3. Take some time out for Exercise - Exercise has been demonstrated to be an effective stress reliever in addition to having physical health advantages.

  4. Practice mindfulness - It is an effective strategy for reducing stress and boosting overall well-being.

You may also wish to read "How To Manage Stress Before It Manages You"

When should I talk to a professional about my stress?

You should always be able to feel comfortable to approach a professional anytime you need help for your stress. If you feel like your stress is beginning to interfere with your life, that is reason enough to visit a professional.

Where can I seek help for my stress?

You can find help for stress management and relief at the following:

Name of Clinic

Address of Clinic

Consultation Cost

Therapy and Counselling Cost

Promises Healthcare (Psychiatry & Psychology Clinic)

#09-23, Novena Medical Centre, 10 Sinaran Dr, 307506

Contact Medical Centre for Prices

Contact Medical Centre for Prices

Promises Healthcare (Psychiatry & Psychology Clinic)

3 Mount Elizabeth, Singapore 228510

Contact Medical Centre for Prices

Contact Medical Centre for Prices

Institute of Mental Health

​10 Buangkok View, Buangkok Green, Medical Park, 539747



Sofia Wellness Clinic

#02-07 Singapore Shopping Centre, 190 Clemenceau Ave, 239924



Incontact Counselling and Training

7 Maxwell Road #04-04, Annexe, B MND Complex, 069111



How much does it cost to seek help for stress?

Average cost

The average cost of stress management help ranges from $ 35to $ 400. The most affordable options are from Sofia Wellness Clinic or Institute of Mental Health.

Am I able to use insurance to claim for stress treatment?

The Medisave Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP) now includes coverage for mental health problems such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety, dementia, and schizophrenia, and allows you to utilise your Medisave funds for your own or family members' mental health needs. [17]

Diagnosing for Stress

Stress vs. Anxiety

Although stress and anxiety have many similar mental and physical symptoms – discomfort, tension, headaches, elevated blood pressure, and sleep loss – they have quite distinct causes. [18]

It is crucial to identify which one you are experiencing in order to develop an effective treatment plan and feel better.

Stress is frequently a reaction to an external source, such as a project deadline, a forthcoming event, a disagreement with peers, and so on, and usually goes away after the problem is settled.

Meanwhile, anxiety is defined as a person's internal reaction to stress. It is distinguished by a "continuous sensation of worry or dread" in settings that are not genuinely dangerous.

You may also wish to read "Anxiety Disorders: The Complete Guide Singapore"

Stress vs. Depression

Stress can be beneficial sometimes but detrimental if it wears you down.

Many causes can contribute to your stress, and this stress can produce physiological changes that influence your entire physical, mental, and emotional health.

Depression is more serious and persistent than stress, and it necessitates a different approach to therapy. [19]

It is a mental health issue that impairs a person's capacity to do daily tasks. It is characterised by dissatisfaction and a loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities.

When do I have to take medication for my stress?

Stress is not a medical diagnosis, and does not have a specific treatment for it. If you are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with stress, there are treatments available that could help:

Talking Treatment

Speaking with a skilled expert can help you learn to manage stress and become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings. The following are some stress-relieving talking treatments:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy assists you in understanding your thinking patterns, identifying your trigger points, and identifying constructive activities you may take. [20]

  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) integrates mindfulness, meditation, and yoga with an emphasis on stress reduction. [21]


Nature therapy, often known as Ecotherapy, is the practice of spending time in nature to improve mental health. This can involve going for a walk in the park or participating in a gardening or conservation initiative. [22]

Complementary Therapy

Complementary therapy approaches your physical and emotional wellness in a holistic manner. These include

  • Yoga

  • Aromatherapy

  • Meditation

  • Acupuncture

Medications for anxiety and stress [23]

  • Drugs used to treat Anxiety

  • Sertraline

  • Citalopram

  • Prozac

  • Alternative treatments for anxiety and stress

  • Kava

  • Valerian

Stress FAQs

Is all stress harmful to my health?

Many of us believe that all stress is harmful for us.

According to one study, prolonged or continuing stress might be damaging and suppress the immunological response. Short-term stress, or the "fight-or-flight" reaction, on the other hand, may be helpful.

Good stress is the form of tension that we experience when we are excited, as it can encourage and inspire us.

Bad Stress can result in anxiety, disorientation, poor attention, and impaired performance

Chronic poor stress, which occurs when you are continuously exposed to stressors, may take a severe toll on your body and have negative health repercussions. Headaches, sleeplessness, weight gain, anxiety, discomfort, and elevated blood pressure can all be symptoms of chronic stress.

It is imperative to distinguish between good and negative stress. Stress, as long as it is not persistent, may be beneficial to your life. Make every attempt to eliminate chronic stress as much as possible, and incorporate pleasant activities to generate good stress. It promotes a healthy balance and improves one's quality of life.

How do I tell if I am experiencing too much stress?

Psychosomatic stress is caused by or exacerbated by emotional stress, and it appears in the body as physical pain and other symptoms.

Chronic stress that may impact your whole body and, if left untreated, can severely diminish your quality of life by causing chronic pain, increasing your risk of certain diseases, and altering your mental health.

Acne, headaches, fast heartbeat, sweating, changes in appetite, digestive troubles, chronic discomfort, and more frequent infections or episodes of illness are some of the physical indicators of stress.

If you find yourself dealing with symptoms of persistent stress and are feeling overwhelmed, seek help through online resources, practising stress management or talking to a health practitioner.

Is there a way to combat stress entirely?

Stress can not be completely eliminated from our lives, but can be minimised by a variety of methods and techniques such as:

  • Breathing techniques - Deep breathing can help reduce blood pressure and pulse rate, bringing the mind and body back into balance.

  • Get Organised - Reduce the impact of stressful conditions by organising and prioritising duties.

  • Talk to a friend - When something bothers you, it might be beneficial to discuss your concerns with your peers and vent.

  • Relaxation techniques - There are many methods to practice relaxation, such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness, etc.

What can I do when I am feeling overwhelmed?

It's natural to feel as though there's too much to cope with at times.

Here are a few pointers to help you when you're feeling overwhelmed by stress:

  • Take a deep breath. Breathing exercises might help to relieve anxious symptoms.

  • Work It Out. Separate yourself from your troubles both physically and emotionally by engaging in some form of activity.

  • Have a Time Out. Taking a break from situations around you, to read a book, or watch a movie can help you clear your mind.

Feeling overwhelmed is a natural aspect of life that results from always attempting to take on more than we should.

This emotion is impossible to escape in today's environment, but there are things you may do to alleviate it when it does come.

What can I do if my child is experiencing stress at school?

School can be tough, demanding, and stressful for children.

The most important thing is to recognize that there is an issue that needs to be addressed which can be worked upon so the child, and you, are able to get the appropriate help needed in the particular situation.

Here a few ways you can provide guidance and support your child if they are stressed:

  • Identify. Recognise the issues they are dealing with, whether it is low grades, peer pressure, or even bullying.

  • Ask. It is important for the parent to have a conversation with their child regarding their stressors to provide emotional support to them.

  • Validate. Listen to and validate their feelings about how difficult the situations they face in school are for them.

  • Reach out to the school/their teachers. Keeping in touch with their teachers/tutors or the school's pastoral team to address your concerns about your child's worries.

  • Teach. Educate them on stress management techniques.

  • Seek Help. Provide additional support such as counselling, if required.

If your kid is suffering from anxiety, there are things you can do to help them, such as offering emotional support, working on practical solutions with them, and locating the appropriate professional treatment if they require it.

How do I teach stress management to my child?

Children may feel concerned, apprehensive, or uninspired at school for a variety of reasons.

Some students will be concerned about academics, while others may find school stressful for other reasons, such as difficulties with friends or instructors.

Hence, it is critical for a parent to teach their children about stress management. These can include:

  • Encourage your child to take up co-curricular activities they enjoy doing, such as sports, painting or music.

  • Teach them the importance of time management by creating a time table for them, so they do not feel like they’re overwhelmed with submissions and homework.

  • Suggest engaging in mindfulness or meditation exercises. Some people find these activities more beneficial than others, so let your child choose what works best for them.

  • Motivate them to adopt healthy habits.

These include physical activity, adequate sleep, a healthy diet, plenty of water, and spending quality time with loved ones. Exercise is very important for anxiety since it can assist to alleviate symptoms in the body.

How do I teach stress management to my employees?

Employees are subjected to demands in their employment on a regular basis, and too much pressure can lead to burnout.

Extreme stress has an impact not just on the person, but also on the overall culture of a business.

Stress Management at work is extremely important for the following reasons:

  • Improves productivity

  • Reduces the employee’s chances of having depression or anxiety disorder

  • Ensures healthy relationships within the workplace

Hence, it is advisable to teach your employees the stress management techniques such as:

  • Praise and Reward employees to boost their morale serving as a motivation for them.

  • Conduct surveys within the company to identify issues within the organisational structure that may be interfering with the employee’s productivity.

  • Provide perks such as adequate leaves, flexible working hours, etc.

  • Introduce wellness programs for the employees such as fitness activities and meditation sessions.

Stress Management is beneficial for the employees and supervisors alike which can promote a healthy and harmonious work culture.

What can I do if I am experiencing stress at work from my boss?

While workplace stress is prevalent, finding a low-stress job is difficult.

If you are struggling to cope with work stress, here are some stress management strategies you might try:

  • Stay Organised. Being organised with your time means less hurrying in the morning to prevent being late and less racing to get out of the house at the end of the day.

  • Be clear. If you're always wondering if what you're doing is enough, it might be time to talk to your boss. You can go through expectations and discuss ways for meeting them.

  • Resolve Conflict. If you believe you have been treated unfairly at work, or are dealing with hostile behaviour from your boss, try voicing your concerns in an assertive, non-confrontational manner instead of suffering in silence.

  • Have boundaries. Creating clear boundaries between personal and professional life can help to lessen the possibility of work-life conflict.

What can I do if my partner is giving me stress?

The stress created by a conflict in your relationship with your spouse can have a detrimental influence on your physical a