- Stress is a normal part of life that can either help us learn and grow or can cause us significant problems.
- It releases powerful neuro chemicals and hormones that prepare us for action (to fight or flee).
- If we don’t take action, the response can create or worsen health problems.
- Prolonged, uninterrupted, unexpected, and unmanageable stresses are the most damaging.
- Stress can be managed by seeking support from loved ones, regular exercise, meditation, or other relaxation techniques, structured timeouts, and learning new coping strategies to create predictability in our lives.
- Many behaviours that increase in times of stress and maladaptive ways of coping with tension — drugs, pain medicines, alcohol, smoking, and eating — actually worsen the stress and can make us more reactive (sensitive) to further tension.
Stress doesn’t have to negatively affect you if you learn to handle it. A few things you can try include:
- Recognize what causes you stress — at home or at work — and find ways to steer clear of those situations.
- Try not to take on too much and prioritize your goals. Cut yourself a break and be more forgiving when you don’t get to everything.
- Create a network of close friends and co-workers you can go to when tension starts to build. A hobby or a cause to volunteer for can be good outlets.
- Cut down on smoking and drinking. While alcohol and tobacco have had a reputation for helping you relax, they actually can make you more anxious.
- Carve out some “me time” and get a little exercise. A 15- to 20-minute walk three times a week can break up your day and help you shake off stress.
- Meditation or other relaxation techniques can help quiet your mind.
- Get a good night’s sleep. You may need to cut down on caffeine during the day and screen time at night. And a to-do list can set up the next day and help you get a more restful night’s sleep.