he hard truth is that we humans aren’t inherently equipped to handle stress gracefully; it’s a learned skill that can take years (lifetimes!) to develop. But with any luck, an extra dose of self-awareness can help speed up that process. If we grow familiar with our habits and tendencies in times of strife, we can begin to apply more productive coping mechanisms. This is where, I believe, a little direction from the stars can go a long way. Below, I’ve analyzed how your astrological sun sign might influence your relationship to stress in whatever form it may take, from a relationship rough patch to an office layoff to mundane friend-group drama.
For an Aries — ruled by Mars, the planet of action and energy — stress can manifest in a very corporeal way. You’re the nail-biters, the finger-drummers and the leg-shakers of the zodiac. You’re also likely prone to tension headaches that are not easily cured by popular go-tos like caffeine or Tylenol.
Since Aries can be quite a private sign, your first instinct will be to mask anxiety in order to maintain your reputation as powerful and in control. You may attempt to counteract stress with exercise, overcompensating for inner turmoil with physical self-care.
To soothe an Aries psyche, it helps to keep your body and brain equally engaged, so instead of mindlessly throwing yourself into intense cardio sessions or kickboxing classes or hours of YouTube makeup tutorials, try something that calms your mind, too, like yoga. It can still be physically demanding and engaging, but it will also encourage calm focus and self-assurance.
A Taurus prefers to work slowly and methodically; stubborn bulls do not perform well under pressure. You hate to feel hurried or rushed and will plant your feet in response. You may be prone to taking “mental health days” if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed; you very much buy into the idea that after a good night’s sleep, the whole world feels more manageable in the morning.
Under times of particularly gnawing stress, you will look for distractions — but not in a social setting. For example, you’re more likely to retreat to your pillow fort (either metaphorical or literal) and plunge yourself into a binge-watching black hole than line up a bunch of parties.
Establishing a fun but productive new routine — like learning to cook or waking up an hour earlier to read the paper and drink your coffee in peace — might help combat your lackadaisical response to stress. Pick something that won’t pack more pressure into your schedule but that will help you feel in control and taken care of.
To put it simply, Geminis don’t like to deal with stress. You probably internalize it, try to squash it and allow its chatter to echo inside of you. That inner chaos inevitably takes its toll, at which point you either shut people out or lash out, depending on how emotionally connected you feel to the stress’ source.
When the tension bursts within your body, you may resort to pacing around your room while blasting music. Or you might attempt to sweat it out, metaphorically, by working extra hard and becoming hyper-focused on a specific ambition.
Try following some calming playlists on Spotify instead. You might also benefit from finding a friend who can help you mediate your conflicting emotions or simply engage in something fun and low-stakes with you, like playing a board game. (I suggest Jenga. It’s strategic while playing and cathartic while losing. A win-win.)
Cancer is symbolized as a crab for a reason; you will rarely miss an opportunity to shrink back into your shell and hide from the world. Any form of anxiety weighs heavily on your psyche — and sometimes you don’t even try to fight it. Cancer is a sensitive sign, and you may tend to lean into your “woe is me” complex.
Since Cancer is ruled by the moon — which represents both intuition and the protective, domestic sphere — solitude is very beneficial for your mental wellness. But it can also become damaging if it’s overused and cause you to grow defensive, combative or difficult to reason with.
You would do well to channel your introspective energy into something productive, like journaling. Regular, honest conversations with yourself can be wonderfully healing and enlightening. It may also help to pour your energy into a methodical yet creative task, especially if it offers some kind of reward, like cooking. You can still do it alone, but it will prevent you from wallowing.
A Leo that encounters stress will cry. You’ll probably wait until you’re alone, but tears will flow for sure. You need to deal with tension immediately and intensely — but once that initial overflow of emotion has passed, you’re good at putting on a brave face. You prefer to put things into perspective and will often find the humor in any situation.
You may even find that you sort of enjoy being stressed, because that means you have an opportunity to impress. You like to feel capable, you love to be admired for your capability — so stress can indicate an opportunity to show that you can work hard and, indeed, “have it all.” This drive to prove yourself can be a detriment, however, when you take on too much and refuse to admit it.
You work well under pressure and can certainly operate at a high level in busy situations, but that won’t negate your feelings of stress. Those feelings, when ignored, will manifest in physical ways. (Crying, as I mentioned, is a big one. Nausea is another.)
You may also grow more and more insular when you’re feeling overworked and overwhelmed. Instead, try leaning into your social nature and cutting back on your obligations when appropriate. Go dancing. Join a book club. Establish a weekly venting session at a regular bar. Giving and receiving attention can feel cleansing, especially for a lion in the jungle.
Most Virgos are perfectionists; you want to fix problems on your own and you don’t want anybody to help. You might even get snippy if something is stressing you out and somebody tries to offer a(n inadequate) solution. You are extremely competent but can be highly self-critical, which may cause you to project these feelings of failure onto the people around you.
Due to the Virgo sign’s inherently high stress levels, you need tranquil environments to balance your pension for inner turmoil. You may gravitate toward organized interiors, neutral or color-coordinated design and minimalist lifestyles. Your home becomes your happy place.
I also recommend finding a place that feels your own, away from your regular routine, to which you can steal away for moments of solitude and tranquility. Find a cute coffee shop where you can sit and sip for an hour alone. Carve your initials into that bench in the park with a particularly pleasant view. Even if this means taking an extra 10 minutes to create the perfect concoction of essential oils for an occasional bath, make sure you allow yourself to feel important.
A Libra will never go through something alone if they can help it. You really value the opinions of the people in your close inner circle — particularly your partner, if applicable. You’ll frequently reach out to others for advice, and you take these nuggets of wisdom very seriously; your ideal best friend is always prepared to pick up the phone and listen to you vent.
The Libra sign is uniquely ill-equipped to deal with high-stress situations. Libra values balance and harmony above all else, so when life does not reflect those values, you can easily freak out. Most Libras are also tremendously creative personalities — and even if you work with a more logical or sensible medium, you do not like to “push through” stress. Like a classic artist, you prefer to wait to be inspired.
Instead of shutting down, however, you should try to channel this creativity into coping mechanisms. Pick up a painting hobby (and make sure to paint using emotion and instinct, rather than to achieve a specific goal). Take an afternoon to walk aimlessly through a museum. Curate playlists in your downtime. Use the arts to diffuse tension.
While creative Scorpios may attempt to work through emotional turmoil with artistic endeavors, according to my research, Lorde may be the only Scorpio in existence who deals with stress exceedingly well (see: Melodrama). Typically, tension needs to build to an exponential level before a Scorpio will actually deal with it; you will let it bubble and ferment to an alarming degree.
Scorpios are a highly sensitive sign, but they don’t like people to know that. Accordingly, they become secret-keepers and tend to withdraw when feeling challenged or overwhelmed. You may dislike talking to others about your anxieties or hardships, but you also will probably get upset when your friends don’t know why you’re stressed. It’s important to remember that you can’t have it both ways. Putting on a mask will rarely encourage genuine inquiry.
Scorpios can be very self-destructive — but this also means that you have great potential for self-improvement. Try having a good cry before things start to feel heavy and crazy, or share your discomfort sooner. And try your absolute best not to feel ashamed or weak because of those things; embrace the catharsis instead.
Sagittarians prefer to joke about serious or stressful situations since they typically avoid emotional turmoil at all costs. They are known for overdoing themselves and will often charge forward without a plan. Because of Sagittarius’ ruling planet, Jupiter, which represents luck, these things will often just work out.
But when this luck falters, which it inevitably will from time to time, you can find yourself in too deep with no strategy for how to emerge unscathed. Instead of sorting through the introspective and productive tools at your disposal, you tend to seek comfort in the company of others and over-commit to social gatherings. And since many Sagittarians want to maintain a “cool” or likeable persona, you’re unlikely to open up about stress in these circumstances unless you’re a particularly effusive drunk.
Many Sagittarians will also travel or look to escape when they feel stressed. This “fight or flight” response isn’t uncommon, but occasionally choosing the former will help strengthen your tools so you can better understand and deal with sources of your stress throughout your life. I know it will probably feel uncomfortable and boring at first, but try meditating. Your restless psyche will thank you someday.
Capricorns are renowned in the astrological world for their masterful handling of stress. True, you may react anxiously and nervously at first, but you will almost always soldier on. You can work through pressure in a very methodical way, adeptly and logically handling difficult situations.
Capricorn tends to accept stress as a fact of life. And while this perspective can be useful and admirable, it can also be damaging when you fail to address the root of a persistent problem. For example, if you’re in a job or field that routinely stresses you out, you will probably just continue to work through it instead of asking yourself, “Is this really the job for me?”
You pride yourself on your ability to remain grounded and self-sufficient in times of crisis. Remember, however, that nobody can do everything alone. Feel free to reach out for help and, chances are, you’ll find that you’ve surrounded yourself with highly capable people. Productivity and ambition attract productivity and ambition. There’s no shame in a little delegation — and this goes for emotional baggage, too. No friend of a Capricorn will scoff at the chance to contribute to a solution.
Exercise can also be very helpful for a Capricorn dealing with stress. You may tend to neglect your physical well-being when faced with mental challenges, but pausing something to work out won’t make you feel lazy or unproductive. It might even have the opposite effect.
Aquarians tend to create their own stress because they are the biggest procrastinators in the zodiac. Aquarius is the sign most concerned with the big picture, so you perpetually live in the future. You have an aggressively optimistic “there’s always tomorrow” attitude, so you may have a hard time living in the present. You also hate feeling cornered or trapped, and a lack of options will trigger a great deal of anxiety. Deadlines are not your strong suit.
Aquarians prefer not to deal with stress immediately. In serious situations, you will probably disassociate or grow detached because you have difficulty with knowing how to process intense emotions. You tend to reach out to every single person you know for advice because you like to see issues from every possible angle (even though you’re super stubborn, so you’ll probably do exactly what you wanted to do in the first place, anyway).
Despite being talkative and hypothetically open about your stress, you can often feel emotionally isolated — like no one truly understands what you’re going through. Try meeting new people and getting out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, advice from a relative stranger is more valuable than advice from someone who knows you and your behavioral patterns too well.
Pisceans are very good at dealing with stress because they tend to be very intuitive and self-aware. Instead of letting an emotion bubble up inexplicably inside of you and parsing your way through it later, you can sense the root of an emotion almost immediately — as though you can hover outside your own self and appraise your anxiety, jumping to a third-party analytical perspective.
You probably cope by embracing change — especially in a cliched, physical way. You’ve dyed your hair after a breakup or gotten a spontaneous tattoo while studying for finals. You use fashion as a means of escapism, trying on different lifestyles and personalities to deal with being underwhelmed by your own.
You have a boundless imagination and feel comfortable distancing yourself from your stresses, as if they belong to another person entirely. In fact, most Pisceans are the type of people who will readily sacrifice for those they love. You often will put others’ needs ahead of your own. Remember to prioritize genuine and lasting self-care, because purple hair and permanent ink in your skin don’t fix the deeper stuff. Eat well, get a good night’s sleep and drink plenty of water. Remind yourself that you are at your most helpful when you’re feeling healthy and refreshed.
Illustrations by Allison Filice.