stress management

Understanding Stress

Once you have lowered your stress level, there are techniques you might want to try that will help prevent it from building up again.

Stress is a fact of daily life and is the result of both the good and bad things that happen. Too much stress can cause serious health concerns, but there are many ways of dealing with stress that can reduce your risk.

Because everyone is different, there is no single way to cope with stress. However, there are a number of approaches you can try to deal with short and long term stress.

* Identify your problems. What is causing your stress? It can be your job, a relationship or another source altogether. Is an unimportant surface problem masking a deeper one? Once you know what the problem is, you can do something about it.

* Work on solutions. Start thinking about what you can do to relieve the problem. Take control over the issues you can manage. This might mean looking for another job, talking with a health professional about personal problems or a financial counsellor. Also ask yourself what will happen if you do nothing. Once you make some changes to deal with the issue, you will take pressure off yourself.

* Talk about your problems. Friends, work colleagues and family members may not know you are having a hard time. If you talk to them about it, it may help in two ways. First of all, just by venting your feelings, you will relieve some stress. Secondly, they may suggest solutions to your problems. If you need to talk to someone outside your circle of family and friends, speak to your family physician or contact a mental health professional.

* Learn about stress management. In addition to health professionals who specialize in stress, there are many helpful books, films, videos, courses and workshops available to help you learn stress management techniques.

* Reduce tension. Physical activity is a great stress reducer. Walk, do some exercises or garden to relieve your stress. There are also relaxation exercises you can learn that will take the pressure off, such as deep breathing and stretching your whole body. Tension meditation and progressive relaxation are techniques that work for many people.

* Take your mind off your problems. By reading, taking up a hobby or becoming involved in sports, you can give yourself a `mental holiday’ from stress. It will also give you distance from your problems, so that they become easier to solve.

* Try not to be too hard on yourself. Stress can cause lots of negative thinking. You may notice yourself saying things like “I can’t, won’t, should, must”. Be realistic. Find realistic solutions you can achieve in steps that will bring success.

Stress Prevention

Once you have lowered your stress level, there are techniques that will help prevent it from building up again.

* Make decisions. Worrying about making a decision causes stress.

* Avoid putting things off. Make up a weekly schedule that includes leisure activities as well as things you must do.

* Delegate to others. Let others take on some of the tasks you have set yourself so that you are not trying to do everything yourself.

*Keep your thinking positive and realistic.

Photo: Lee Haywood

For more information please visit the Health Canada website.