Taking Action to Manage Your Stress
Preventing Stressful Situations
Stress happens. It’s a fact of life. Although you cannot live a life that is entirely stress-free, you can do your best to avoid stressful situations. For example:
- Learn to say no
- Avoid overscheduling
- Prepare (as best you can) for the events or moments you know will be stressful
- Set realistic goals
Click here to understand one of the most important things you can do for your stress, courtesy of Myfavoritemedicine.com
Management and Coping Strategies
What You Can Do if You’re Feeling Excessive Stress
How you think about an event — and the emotions attached to your thought processes — determines its impact on your health. This means any steps you take toward a more positive outlook will tend to decrease your level of stress and improve your health. At the same time, it’s important to find specific coping strategies to manage the stress in your life.
Learn ways to manage and control stress by:
- Identifying what causes you stress
- Finding ways to reduce the amount of stress
- Creating a healthy plan to relieve stress and its harmful effects
Managing your stress starts with these basic guidelines:
- Be physically active every day. This will help reduce the effects of stress.
- Identify and maintain your strong support networks and good family relationships.
- Get more information on stress management.
- Ask for help if stress becomes a concern.
Coping with Stress from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, includes skills and practical techniques for reducing stress, as well as information on finding help and different options for treatment.
What You Can Do if You Are Feeling Anxious
Learn to recognize when you are starting to feel anxious and plan ways to manage your feelings. Learn new coping strategies to handle anxious situations instead of avoiding them. For example, practice slow, deep breathing, among these other strategies:
- Imagine scenes that are relaxing and pleasant for you.
- Learn relaxation skills (tense and release the muscles throughout your body).
- Distract yourself from the thoughts or physical symptoms that contribute to your anxiety (count backward from 100 by three).
- Do something pleasurable, like reading a funny book or getting a back rub.
- Share your fears and worries with someone you trust.
When facing stressful situations, it helps to be prepared. Think of solutions to problems that cause you anxiety before the problems arise. When you’re in a stressful situation, try letting go of the things that are beyond your control.
Consider participating in a support program to educate yourself, alleviate some worries, and get answers to your questions and concerns. If you need to, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional (social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist) about proven treatments for anxiety.
What You Can Do if You Are Feeling Depressed
Negative thinking is often involved in depression. Getting help to learn new ways of thinking can be beneficial. Seek help by talking with your family and friends and joining support groups. You can also talk to your doctor or a mental health professional (social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist) about proven treatments and strategies for coping with depression.
Engage in pleasant activities — even when you don’t feel like it. This can help improve your mood. Regular exercise can also positively affect your outlook. Set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate when you achieve them. To prove to yourself that you’re making gains, record your daily activities.
Make sure you take time away from daily stresses. Consider participating in a support program to educate yourself and gain confidence.
This video offers tips on managing stress, anxiety, and depression (University of Ottawa Heart Institute).
Although medication is a method of managing stress, it treats the symptoms of depression, not the causes. You have a better chance of treating the underlying causes of depression if you also seek professional help. For example, a mental health professional can assist you in making the necessary cognitive and behavioural changes to improve your emotional well-being. Medication combined with other strategies, like psychotherapy, is often the most effective approach to reducing feelings of depression.
If you take medication, how long you'll need to do so depends on the stage and severity of your depression. You may be prescribed medication for six months or much longer to help reduce the risk of relapse.