Create Your Calm
Published Monday, February 13, 2023
By Caitlund Davidson, Health Promotion and Communications Planner
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. You may feel stress before a presentation, before an important game, when you experience conflict with a family member, friend or co-worker, or any other number of situations. Each person has different things that cause stress.
Stress is a response to situational pressures, especially when the situation is thought to be threatening or dangerous. In these situations, your body releases hormones that trigger the fight-or-flight response. It makes you sweat, breathe faster, tense your muscles and prepare to take action. Although not all stress is bad, when you are under constant stress, it can affect your physical and mental health. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage stress.
Symptoms of stress vary from person to person. You may experience chronic pain, have trouble sleeping, feel tired all the time, have difficulty concentrating or have digestive problems. Headaches can also be a side effect of stress, specifically tension headaches that are caused from tightening muscles in response to stress or anxiety. There is a long list of physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms that are a result of stress.
Developing coping mechanisms to help calm you during stressful times, reduce these symptoms and avoid unhealthy responses like anger, feeling overwhelmed, or overindulging in food or alcohol. By better understanding yourself and how you respond to stress, you will recognize which mechanisms work best for you and diminish the every day worries.
Three tips to create a sense of calm and reduce stress:
- Listen to music. Both listening and making music have a links to our emotions and can be a tool in stress management. Light jazz, classical and easy listening music, as well as sounds nature, have been found to effectively reduce stress.
- Practice self-care. Take time for yourself especially when you are feeling stressed. It doesn’t have to be complex – it simply means tending to your well-being and happiness.
- Reduce your caffeine intake. Found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks, caffeine is a chemical that stimulates your nervous system. Consuming too much can cause increased stress or anxiety. Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 400 mg per day (or three 8oz cups of coffee).
- Taking 5 minutes a day to write down your thoughts and feelings can help to process your emotions, gain clarity about situations and plan your next steps. It can even lead to self-discovery. You can be as blunt or guarded in your writing as you wish since it is your journal.
By making small changes to your daily routine, you can add activities that create a sense of calm. Looking for more ideas for how you can manage and reduce stress? Visit bit.ly/hs-reduce-stress to learn more.