Some people have a hard time coping with stressful events that others handle easily. For example, the average person might feel slightly anxious prior to flying on an airplane, but if that anxiety is debilitating and keeps her from getting near an airport, she likely won’t be able to overcome this stressor without the help of a professional.

If you are unable to reduce your stress or prevent future stressful episodes despite your best efforts, ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health specialist who treats anxiety and stress.

It’s important to recognize the role a professional’s help can play in conquering stress and anxiety. He can help you find ways to reduce the impact stress has on you; he might suggest meditation, visualization, or talk therapy. These techniques allow you to reduce your stress load while counteracting any negative physical impacts. He can also teach you how to face stressful situations without buckling under pressure. Strategies to deal with stressful situations may include visualization of possible future scenarios, pre-scripted responses to requests or demands you cannot handle, or role-playing ways to resolve conflict.

Services mental health professionals can provide include cognitive or behavioral therapy, biofeedback, and hypnosis.

Hypnosis

Psychologists and doctors can use hypnosis to put you into a deeply relaxed state. This helps minimize the physical impact stress will have on your body. Hypnosis can then be used to alter the way you act and the responses you have to particular stressors.

Talk Therapy or CBT

Allowing yourself to talk about and work through situations helps release stress and anxiety. It might be more beneficial to do this with a person who isn’t intimately connected to you, such as a spouse or best friend. (This is especially true if they are part of the stress.) They may ask questions that encourage you to think deeply about the root cause of a stressor.

If stress has become debilitating, a doctor or therapist may use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to change the way we think about or react to particular stressors. If you understand why you react the way you do, you may be able to change your response.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback measures your body’s response to stress in real time (for example, heart rate, muscle tension, breathing, brain waves. When you recognize your body’s response to stress, you can employ relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, meditation, or visualization faster and hopefully with better success. Because biofeedback works in real time, you can try a variety of relaxation techniques to see which works best at calming your stress responses.