Managing stress

Learn how to manage your reactions to stress and protect your well-being.

Stress is inevitable

Stress is inevitable in life. The way we respond to stressful situations can impact our quality of life and potentially affect others.

Many factors influence our stress levels, including:

  • The quality of our social connections – our ability to be authentic and our reach out for help when we need it.
  • Our overall physical health – nutrition, exercise, exposure to sunlight and adequate rest.
  • Our resilience and ability to bounce back from stressful situations– everyone can benefit from choosing to build resilience at any age.
  • Our emotional intelligence – our ability to identify emotions in ourselves and others, as well as manage our emotional reactions. 

Read more for activities and tools to help you respond more positively to stress at work and stay balanced, calm and healthy.

Identify your stressors

If you don’t know why you’re stressed, you can’t eliminate, address or change the source of your stress.

Identify the sources of stress in your life. We’re more likely to feel stressed by personal situations that are (or we perceive to be) unexpected, unpredictable and out of our control. Explore how you’re feeling with a self-assessment.

Work stress. We offer strategies to help you maintain your well-being and deal with difficult management styles, including Dealing with a stressful boss. If your work stress is overwhelming, go for help first and then check out Supporting employee success to develop a supportive workplace plan. 

Financial stress. Regain control of money issues, like personal finances, student debt and more.

Family issues. Separation, divorce or conflict can cause significant stress. Reaching out for help can make a big difference.

Caregiver stress. If you’re responsible for the care of a loved one, you can reduce some of your stress by accessing resources, support and information to make your life easier.

Respond to stress

Learning techniques to respond to stress in the moment, as well as to chronic stress, can help you better cope with whatever life presents you.

Relieve stress in the moment. One of the most effective, immediate strategies for regulating your stress and mood in the moment is to work actively on slowing down your breathing

Relax your body. Practice Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) to reduce your overall level of tension and prevent yourself from becoming overly tense again. Researchers have shown the simple act of positioning your face in a (natural) half-smile can lift your mood. It sounds too simple to be true, but it works!

Relax your mind. The way we interpret events at work – past, present or future – is integral to our stress levels. The power of thought can reduce your feelings of stress. View these Stress reduction videos to learn how to relax and reduce stress.

Examine your options. Use this process to help you learn how to approach stressors, including those you can’t eliminate.

Think it through. The Psychological Foundation of Canada offers Stress strategies to help you problem-solve the sources of stress.

Prevent stress

You can prevent most severe stress responses by putting a plan in place to build up your Resilience.

Get enough sleep. When we’re sleep-deprived, we’re more likely to feel stressed and emotional. Sleep deprivation affects our work, as well as our ability to respond effectively to distressed workers and negative emotions in the workplace.  

Develop healthy coping strategies. By completing the Plan for resilience, you can identify your current stress responses and discover effective coping strategies.

Take advantage of stress reduction apps. Several options are included in Mental health apps.

Balance your work and personal life. These tips and strategies can help.

Subscribe to the weekly Take your break emails. These emails provide break activities to support good mental health at work for low- to no-cost. You can also find these specific activities:

  • Calm: These activities calm the mind for those who feel pressure, overwhelmed or anxious at work. Refocus your thoughts through journaling, meditating or other activities.
  • Energize: These activities are for those who have repetitive or sedentary work. Energize both your mind and body through refreshing activities that include moving, playing and social connection.
  • Relax: These activities are ideal for those whose work includes physical exertion. They help you relax through stretching, arts and breathing. They also help prepare you to resume physical activity in a healthy way.