15 Buddhist Strategies to Cope with Stress


To calm down and to perceive the world in a more relaxed way – lean how Buddhism can help us to do so…

1. Meditate for a few minutes every day

Buddhists are convinced that meditation leads us to enlightenment. Only through meditation can we find clarity, stability, trust and bliss. Buddhists also believe that meditation leads to positive feelings like love, patience and compassion. This means: When we meditate, we are less stressed and less bad-tempered in the long run. Sounds good! And let’s try it out right away. A few minutes a day are usually enough. Apps like Calm, Headspace or Balloon are great for beginners.

2. Give someone a smile

“Compassion and love are not mere luxury goods. As the source of inner and outer peace, they are fundamental to the survival of our species,” says the Dalai Lama. Have you ever noticed that you start the day in a better mood and more relaxed when the baker gives you a friendly smile and wishes you a nice day? Buddhists say: Happiness is related to positive states of mind like compassion and kindness. So if we are friendly to someone, we strengthen his and our state of happiness.

So: please smile!

3. Worry less

How often do problems at work, in the family or with friends prevent us from sleeping. We think about a solution all the time, rack our brains and worry too much. Totally unnecessary, if Buddhism has its way. The Dalai Lama has said a very impressive sentence about this: “If a problem can be solved, you don’t need to worry. If not, worries are pointless.” There is nothing more to add to this.

4. Do not be angry

In Buddhism, anger is considered the most negative force of all, for anger can destroy all good things with one blow. And how often do we get angry about something or someone in our stressful everyday life? But the Buddhists say: Getting angry does not help us. Rather, we should learn to control our negative feelings and practice calmness. Or as the Dalai Lama puts it: “Do not let the behavior of others disturb your inner peace. Concrete example: A colleague accuses us of having done a bad job. Instead of getting angry and defending ourselves, we should stay calm and weigh up the situation. If he is right, there is no reason to be angry, but we should learn from our mistake. If he is wrong, there is even less reason to be angry because we did nothing wrong and he was simply wrong.

5. Do the opposite of what you actually feel like doing

Fire is not extinguished with fire, but with water. And the same applies to negative feelings such as anger and resentment: the exact opposite is the solution. Let us imagine the following situation: You have had a stressful day at work and and can’t wait for some relaxation. In the evening, pure chaos awaits you at home: The children have turned the apartment into a battlefield, your husband hasn’t cleaned up. First reaction: You get angry and scold. But honestly? You’ll probably only make things worse and feel really bad in the end. The Buddhists say in such a case: contrary behavior causes the opposite result. So next time, try to stay calm. Take a deep breath in and out, count slowly to 10 or step out of the room for a moment – whatever helps you. And then: Consider the person you are angry at as a teacher. One who helps us to become more patient, understanding and friendly and thus helps us to move forward in the long run. As unusual as it may seem at first glance: Be grateful that this person has given you this very situation. Because this way you can grow and become stronger (after all, patience is a sign of strength in Buddhism).

6. Set realistic goals

Focused, disciplined, content – these are important virtues in Buddhism. And this is exactly what helps us to achieve our goals in everyday life. For example with the “Deep Work” working method: For a self-chosen period of time, the cell phone and other disturbing influences are banished from the room in order to work in a concentrated manner without distraction. When the time is up or the self-defined goal is reached, we can devote ourselves to other things again. In this way, we achieve more in less time than if we are constantly distracted in between. Buddhists also make sure that their goal is realistic and that they remain calm if something goes wrong.

7. Be grateful for challenges

“Any difficult situation you master now will be spared in the future,” says the Dalai Lama. Isn’t that an inspiring attitude? And wouldn’t we jump in at the deep end much more often and simply tackle challenges if we knew that they would not come back afterwards? And if they did, we would already have learned how to master the situation and it would no longer need to frighten us.

8. Bad situations will pass

There’s a simple trick when stress gets too much for you. Ask yourself: Will this situation here and now in 10 years still be important to me? Will I still be able to remember it when I am dying? The answer will be “No!” in 99.9% of cases. Buddhists are very consciously aware that we humans are mortal and that everything around us is transitory. With this perspective, many things very quickly become unimportant. Simply because it is not worth spending your valuable time on it.

9. Create islands of time

“Spend some time with yourself every day,” advises the Dalai Lama. In the stressful everyday life not so easy. Seek out specific moments in which you are only for yourself. For example, get up half an hour earlier and enjoy the morning alone, for example with yoga and meditation. Spend your lunch break alone and sit down in your favorite cafĂ© with a good book. Get off the train two stops earlier in the evening and walk home completely relaxed. There are many ways to be just for you. Take advantage of them!

10. Say no

Buddhists are friendly beings. And yet they have learned one thing that is still difficult for us: to say no. Because they know exactly whether they can master a task or not. And would never put themselves in a situation where they could lose face and thus lose their self-confidence. So the next time we know that a task simply cannot be accomplished or would put us under too much pressure: smile friendly and say no. When in doubt, it’s better than accepting everything and ending up in the swimming pool. Here we have a few extra tips for you on the subject of “learning to say no”.

11. See the positives

Poor sleep, headaches, trouble with the boss: there are many things that can really spoil your day. But the Dalai Lama says: “Nothing is more relaxing than accepting what is coming. In other words, if you don’t feel sorry for yourself, but make the best of the situation, you will grow from this challenge and find inner strength.

12. Only we can solve our problems

Buddha says, “No one saves us but ourselves. Nobody can and nobody is allowed to. We must walk the path ourselves.” So if we are stressed, it is up to us to change this situation. We should not miraculously wait for help from outside. In other words: seek a conversation, specifically ask the colleague for support, involve the partner more in everyday family life – for example with a daily schedule in which the tasks are clearly distributed.

13. Start everything with a smile

Whether we have to give an important presentation, calm the screaming baby or get stuck in a traffic jam: Our own attitude towards things has a great influence on how things turn out. If we are tense and expect the worst, the situation will certainly not be as smooth as when we smile, take a deep breath and whisper to ourselves: “It’ll work out”. Buddhists try to start everything with a smile. And usually have great success with it.

14. The path is the goal
We are constantly rushing around from one place to another and are already thinking about the next meeting, parents’ evening, children’s birthday party. Buddhists are experts in living in the moment, enjoying the moment. Just stand still and look around. Watch the flower by the wayside, breathe in and out, close your eyes for a moment. In Buddhism, the path is the goal. It is more important to travel well than to arrive. A beautiful thought that should ground us from time to time in our stressful everyday life.

15. Clean up your own life

Sometimes it’s just too much of everything: too much stress in the office, too many appointments, too much stuff flying around at home. How relieving it can be to concentrate on what’s really important – and just let everything else go. Finally cleaning out the closet and getting rid of all those clothes you don’t wear anyway. Canceling the appointment with the colleague who talks too much and is just taking advantage of us. When we are ready to clean out our lives regularly, we feel more liberated, lighter and more with ourselves. Try it out!

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