Everyone experiences stress from time to time. In fact, in 2014, 23.0% of Canadians aged 15 and older (6.7 million people) stated that most days were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely stressful’. There could be multiple reasons behind these feelings of stress, such as major life changes, home, school or work circumstances. For example, the transition from high school to university, academic pressures, or long hours of work.
When dealing with stress, you might feel irritable, tense, and struggle with concentration or have trouble sleeping. Everyone handles stress differently. Someone may cope with it through unhealthy or risky behaviours such as smoking, drinking excess alcohol, being sedentary, and eating poorly. If you encounter stress for a very long period of time, there is always a possibility that it could become chronic. Chronic stress negatively affects healthy living and can lead to consequences such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
To manage your stress, start by making positive choices. There are many stress management and coping strategies you can use. For instance, being physically active, eating and sleeping well. There are websites, books, videos and even courses on managing stress. Did you know there are also apps that can act as a tool for stress management? The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has compiled a list of apps such as Breathe2Relax, HealthyMinds and Serenita.
With millions of Canadians dealing with stress daily, remember, you are not alone. Someone else could be going through the same thing as you. Just being there for a friend or family member, whether it is talking things through with them or offering advice, provides them with a lot of benefit. Friends and family can be vital sources of support.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle when facing stress can be hard. But how you approach and cope with a stressful situation can make a huge difference in your life. Don’t let negative stress win.
Here are some tips to remember when dealing with stress:
One step at a time
There are moments when we experience that there is too much to do and not enough time. Taking on too much at once can overwhelm you. To avoid this, balance your work and time.
Write out a weekly schedule and list the things you need to do (from top priority to lowest)
Plan each day accordingly (e.g. if you have an assignment to do, complete a small amount each day until the due date)
Try not to schedule too many activities in one day
Take a break
Sometimes, when you are too busy, a break might feel like a luxury that you can’t afford. But it is important to make time for yourself whenever you can, to do the things you love and the things that make you feel good. It can be something like:
Listening to relaxing music
Yoga, meditation or sports – even just for 30 minutes a day – can help to reduce stress
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you feel you’ve tried everything on your own and nothing is working or your stress is too much to handle, it’s okay to get professional help. You can consult a doctor, seek out resources that are available at a community health center or counselling and wellness services at your school.