Managing Stress


It’s normal to go through periods of stress. These periods can be caused by school, work, money, your relationships with others, or something else. 

Moderate levels of stress can actually be helpful. This gives us the energy and focus we need to deal with the task at hand. But when we’re subject to intense stress, or stress that’s chronic (i.e. continuing over a long period of time), it can start to have negative effects on our well-being. 

You might not be able to control or change the situation that’s causing stress. But there are techniques that you can learn to help manage stress and avoid being overwhelmed by it.

Signs of stress

We tend to think about stress as a bad thing, but that’s not always the case. For one, when we feel stressed about something, it generally means that we care a lot about it. That’s usually a good thing! And in the short term, stress can motivate us and help us focus on the task at hand. These temporary bursts of stress are known as acute stress.

Acute stress is a natural part of life. Unfortunately, in the modern world, many people experience long-term (or chronic) stress. Chronic stress can be caused by a wide range of things, including school, work, relationships, or living in a dangerous environment. Our bodies did not evolve to endure stress over long periods of time. As a result, chronic stress can lead to physical side effects, including: 

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Low mood and depression
  • Excessive worry and anxiety

If you’re in immediate danger or need urgent help, call 911. You can also talk to a trained crisis responder.

Steps towards wellness

  1. Learn healthy coping stategies
    • We can’t always control the sources of our stress, but we can learn positive ways to manage it.
  2. Make time for self care
    • Be kind to yourself by doing simple things you enjoy. This could be things like cooking a healthy meal or taking a relaxing bath.
  3. Slow down and be mindful
    • Even a quick, 5-minute mindfulness practice can help you stay calm and focused. Taking a few minutes to yourself can stop you from being overwhelmed by everything that’s going on.
  4. Learn how to say NO
    • Know your limits, both at work and in your personal life. Don’t be afraid to turn things down when you’ve already got a lot on your plate.

Helping someone cope with stress

When someone you care about is dealing with a lot of stress, it’s tempting to jump straight into problem-solving. But it’s just as important to show them that you empathize with their situation. Let them know that you’re there to support them. Talk to them about how they’re doing, let them vent, and validate their feelings. You could also point them towards sources of community support. They might find it helpful to speak with people who are going through something similar.

Keep an eye out for signs that somebody is dealing with excessive levels of worry or anxiety-related issues. Look out for things like uncontrollable worry, panic attacks, or the person being overwhelmed by stress. In these cases, it might be useful to connect them with mental health resources. You can suggest phone counselling or self-guided exercises.