Everyone experiences stress differently.

But when the stress you are experiencing makes you feel overwhelmed or affects your health, happiness, and ability to cope, it’s time to learn how to cope more effectively.

Stress is a normal physical reaction. Good stress is what motivates you to focus on a task or take action. It helps you achieve balance in all the responsibilities in your life. Good stress is manageable and often helpful. Bad stress is when stress is unhelpful. It may cause you to feel out of control. It makes you feel overwhelmed, have difficulty concentrating, find it hard to make decisions or find solutions to problems. Bad stress can cause damage to your physical and mental health, your productivity, relationships and quality of life.

Stress can affect your health in several ways. Common health complaints include: headaches, stomach aches, difficulty sleeping, and muscle tension. Unresolved stress can become chronic and lead to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, mental illness (depression), or affect your immune system. Some of the unhealthy reactions or unhealthy ways to cope with stress include; over eating or poor diet, smoking, excessive use of alcohol or drugs, an increase in caffeine, and self-injury or self-harm behaviour.

Stressors are stress-provoking situations. Stressors include life events such as; a new job, grief and loss, a new baby, marriage, moving, or retirement, as well as our daily routine events like; traffic , work pressures, or family responsibilities.

Stress is a fact of life. No one can eliminate all stress from their life or prevent stress from happening in the future. The goal of stress management is to bounce back from problems or challenges and maintain balance. In order to cope effectively with stress you need to recognize stress and know how you respond to it.

  • Identify the problem. Once you know what the problem is you can do something about it;
  • Solve problems as they come up. Once you decide on a solution divide the steps into manageable pieces;
  • Talk about your problem with a trusted friend, family member or health care provider;
  • Simplify your life. Learn to say NO;
  • Learn helpful thinking strategies. The way you think about situations affects how you respond to them;
  • Learn about stress management. See a counsellor, take an education session, read a self-help book;
  • Start on the inside. Practice yoga, breathing exercises, meditation
  • Get Active. Physical activity helps reduce stress; and
  • Do something you enjoy. Make time for yourself, find a hobby or sport and do something that is fun that makes you laugh.