A Little Stress Is Normal
Stress can be good when it helps you rise to challenges.
• It can help you face threats and act quickly in an emergency.
• Stress can also sharpen your abilities and help you perform better.
But Too Much Stress Can Harm You
Here are some problems that stress can worsen or even cause:
• Tiredness or exhaustion.
• Poor concentration or memory.
• Difficulty making decisions.
• Headache, sweating, nervousness.
• Frequent colds.
• Eating or sleeping problems.
• Abdominal cramps or nausea.
• Mood swings irritability, impatience, short temper and anger.
• Anxiety, worry, fear and depression.
• High blood pressure, chest pains, heart disease, heart attack, stroke.
It is normal to feel overly stressed sometimes. No one lives a stress-free
life. The challenge is to
manage stress so it doesn’t dominate your life.
What Causes Stress?
Both little things and big things count.
Normal, everyday problems: commuting delays, computer problems, misplacing things, other people’s
Specific situations: public speaking, a job interview, a blind date, works deadlines, etc.
Significant life events: marriage, divorce, a new baby, a new job, moving, a serious illness, the
death of someone close.
Other problems: family problems, relationship problems; financial worries, trouble on the job.
People respond differently to stress.
• A situation that makes YOU anxious may not bother someone else at
all. Some people thrive on deadlines, for example. Others are paralyzed by them.
• Something that worries you a lot at first may be much less stressful
1. Get plenty of sleep.
• Have a regular sleep schedule. When you’re rested you have
more energy to deal with stressful events.
• If caffeine keeps you awake at night, cut down on coffee, soda and
other caffeine-containing drinks.
• Nicotine can also keep you awake. For free help to quit smoking, call 311.
2. Be physically active.
• Regular exercise is powerful. It improves mood, relieves stress
and makes you healthier. It can even help prevent depression.
• Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as a
brisk walk) at least 5 days a week.
• When people get anxious, they sometimes hold their breath, or breathe
fast and shallow.
• Practice deep breathing. Relax your belly and breathe deeply into
your abdomen. Inhale and exhale s-l-o-w-l-y.
• Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques also relieve stress.
4. Talk about it.
• Talk with a trusted friend, family member, or religious advisor.
• Talking puts problems in perspective. Worries decrease, and solutions emerge.
• Spend more time with people who support you, and less time with
5. Write about it.
• Keep a “stress journal” for a week to help you identify
• Describe what makes you tense. What happened? How did you feel?
• Look at the events that were most stressful. Pick ONE thing to work on.
6. Treat yourself well.
• When you’re overwhelmed, everything feels more difficult.
It’s harder to be good to yourself.
But now is the time to try.
• Eat as well as you can. Get to bed on time. Keep your medical appointments.
Take your daily medicine.
• Can’t do it ALL today? Nobody’s perfect. Try again tomorrow.
7. Make time for yourself.
• Do something you enjoy
• Get somebody to watch the kids for a while. Go to the movies or
take a walk in the park.
• Take short breaks at work. Take a long weekend. Take a real vacation for once.
8. Keep it simple.
• Set realistic expectations and goals. Take small, not big, steps.
(Reorganize a drawer, not the whole house.)
• Try to change the way you see things:
• Don’t mistake temporary problems
(“I’m tired today”) for permanent ones
(“I’m too old to change”).
• Don’t mistake specific problems
(“I have a bad habit”) for general ones
(“I’m a bad person”).
9. Laugh it off.
• Laughter has stress-relieving benefits – and it’s FREE.
• Humour helps us see problems as “challenges “instead
of “threats.” It connects us with others, and it’s
• Get more laughter in your life:
• Rent a hilarious movie.
• Play with your pet.
• Get really silly with the kids.