April is Stress Awareness Month. This is a great opportunity to assess the sources of stress in your life, learn about effective coping skills and work on ways to reduce the stress you experience on a daily basis.

Statistics show that 1/3 of Canadians feel that they are constantly under stress trying to accomplish more than they can handle, that 2% of Canadian workers reported that they were on the verge of a breakdown, and that 50% of Canadian workers ages 25-44 worry that they do not spend enough time with friends and family.

Stress is your response to the world around you – like a situation or an event. While stress can be related to good or bad events, such as the stress felt the night before a wedding or the stress of bankruptcy, our body’s response can be the same. Like a race car at a starting line, the body gears-up to meet the challenge of the stressful situation.

First Steps to Effective Stress Management:

1. Recognize that you have the power to make decisions, to more effectively manage your stress level

2. Recognize your personal Signs of Stress

Stress can present itself in many ways.

The Physical signs of stress may include:

  •  Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Restless sleeps
  • Stomach and digestive problems

These symptoms are brought on by the release of adrenaline and cortisol, the hormones that ready our bodies for a “flight or fight” response.

Mental signs of stress:

  • Poor concentration
  • Racing thoughts
  • Low productivity
  • Forgetfulness

Emotional signs of stress:

  •  Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

Spiritual signs of stress:

  • Cynicism
  • Lack of fulfilment

Social signs of stress:

  •  Intolerance for others
  • Lashing out

We’ve all experienced some of these signs in our lives brought on by varying degrees of stress. But if you have been experiencing these signs over a prolonged time, it may be an indicator that you have an unhealthy level of stress and you should take steps to eliminate the stressors.

3. Look more closely at your lifestyle and see what can be changed in:

  • Your work situation
  • Your family situation
  • Your thoughts
  • Your schedule

It would be nice if there were one simple way to manage stress, but all our challenges are as diverse and individual as we are. We’ve each got to figure out what works best for us in all sorts of situations.

While there’s no “magic pill” for stress management, there are many things you can do to prevent and manage stress in your life:

These helpful tips were adapted from here.

Check out this short video of Ellen DeGeneres’ monologue on stress, in honour of Stress Awareness Month.