How to Survive the Perfect Storm of Stress

How to Survive the Perfect Storm of Stress

How to Survive the Perfect Storm of Stress

The perfect storm of stress occurs when not one, two, or three problems arise at once, buttwenty-seven stressors hit during a short period of time.


  • You drive over a nail and get a flat tire
  • You forget to pack lunch for your daughter
  • The hot water heater breaks
  • Your sister is going in for a minor medical procedure
  • You realize that you forgot to prepare part of your presentation for work
  • You spill salad dressing on your new dress

The perfect storm is the product of:

Number of plates that you are spinning X Timing of stressors

 When our stressors are well spaced out, we can easily handle them.  When multiple problems arise during a short period of time, however, we tend to get overwhelmed.  Much of the timing of stress is just plain luck of the draw.  I broke my right foot this summer and couldn’t walk or drive for about 6 weeks.  I was keenly aware that if I had been hit with another stressor while I was marooned on my couch, that I would have been overwhelmed.  I was simply lucky that nothing else hit during the summer.

When you’re in the middle of the perfect storm of stress, this is what I advise:

  • DO reach out for help.  We’ve all been there, and there are a lot of people that can relate and lend support.  Try to find some humor in moment.
  • DON’T beat yourself up for ‘causing’ the perfect storm.  Again, the perfect storm of stress is largely the result of bad timing and bad luck.
  • DO exercise.  Exercise has been shown to lower stress levels and it helps you to think about your problems more clearly.
  • DON’T isolate yourself from friends and family.  Pushing yourself to ‘deal with it’ by yourself will likely cause further stress and anxiety.

Like a thunderstorm, the perfect storm of stress will pass!  



Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist