Manage stress

Help to manage stress

Stress is a normal reaction to the pressures of everyday life.

Worry, fear, anger, sadness and other emotions are also all normal emotional responses. They are all part of life. However, if the stress interferes with how you are able do the things you want or need to do, this stress has become unhealthy. Making lifestyle change can help you manage stress. Looking after your body also helps look after your mental wellbeing.

Resources for young people:

If you feel overwhelmed and can’t manage your emotions and stresses on your own, seek professional help.

Counsellors and mental health therapists are trained professionals who can find ways to help you cope, reduce the effects of emotional stress, help you feel better and become more functional in your day-to-day activities.

Signs of stress

Emotional stress can affect you physically, emotionally and change your usual behaviour.

Physical signs include:

  • Heaviness in your chest, increased heart rate or chest pain
  • Shoulder, neck or back pain or general body aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired, anxious, depressed
  • Losing or gaining weight and changes in your eating habits
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea or constipation
  • Sexual difficulties

Mental or behavioural signs include:

  • Being more emotional than usual
  • Feeling overwhelmed or on edge
  • Trouble keeping track of things or remembering
  • Trouble making decisions, solving problems, concentrating, getting your work done
  • Using alcohol or drugs to relieve your emotional stress


Self-help tips on managing stress

There are many techniques that can help you manage your emotional stress.

Take some time to relax and care for yourself. Even if you only take five to 15 minutes a few times a day to relax and take a break:

  • Breath slowly
  • Read a book
  • Download and listen to a 'calm' app (sounds of nature, rain) on your computer or phone
  • Take a walk
  • Practice yoga
  • Listen to music, sing along to a song or dance to music
  • Enjoy a soothing bath
  • Sit in silence with your eyes closed
  • Light a scented candle

Other techniques to try include:

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is learning how to focus your attention and become more aware. You can learn to feel the physical changes in your body that happen in response to your changing emotions. Understanding this mind-body connection is the first step in learning how to better manage your stress and how emotions affect your body. Mindfulness can also help you focus your mind on the immediate – what can I do to bring my mind and body to a place of calmness. If you can figure out what helps you feel more calm and relaxed in that moment, you know you’ve figured out one of your stress triggers and what works to manage it.

Distract your mind 

Focus your mind on something other than what’s causing your stress. Do something fun. Watch a funny movie, play a game, engage in a favorite hobby (paint, draw, take pictures of nature, play with your pet). Volunteer for an activity to help others. Do something with people you enjoy.

Try journaling

Journaling is the practice of writing down your thoughts and feelings so you can understand them more clearly. It is a method that encour­ages you to slow down, pay attention, and think about what is going on in your life – and your feelings and reactions to these happenings. Since journaling can reveal your innermost thoughts, it can reveal your emotional stress triggers. You can identify and then replace negative thoughts and feelings with behaviors that are more positive. Journaling is a healthy and positive way to face your emotions. When you confront your emotions, healing or change can begin.

Practice meditation

Meditation is another way to actively redirect your thoughts. By choosing what you think about, such as positive thoughts or warm, comforting memories, you can manage your emotions and reduce your emotional stress.