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Coping with Stress

What is Stress?

Stress can be defined by any change that a person must adapt to in their ever changing world. Stress is a part of every day life and is unavoidable. It can arise from both positive and negative experiences but how we react to stress will determine its impact on our health. Since everyone experiences stress and it is unavoidable, it is important to learn healthy ways to cope.


Effects of Stress


Stress can impact us physically, emotionally and behaviourally.

  • Physical – fast heart rate, sweating, rapid breathing, pupils dilating, etc.
  • Emotional – feelings of helplessness, anxiety, memory deficits, mental fatigue
  • Behavioural – over reliance on drugs/alcohol/cigarettes, becoming irritable and aggressive, over or under eating


Where to start?


  • Assess your current stressors and determine whether your stress levels are low, medium or high (you can use a stress test for this)
  • Be aware of your physiological and emotional reaction to stress
  • Recognize what you can change – can you eliminate any stressors? can you change your response or reaction to stress?
  • Utilize healthy coping skills


Healthy Coping Skills


  • Release your stress on an ongoing basis to avoid internalizing. Reflect on the events that were stressful, practice deep breathing during stressful situations.
  • Utilize physical and emotional methods to bring our body back to a state of balance. This can include activities such as exercise, yoga, meditation, massage, aromatherapy, etc. Mindfulness and visualization can be a great way to cope with stress.  
  • Practice healthy eating and sleeping habits by eating a healthy diet and keeping your intake of salt, caffeine and alcohol to a minimum.
  • Access counselling so that a professional can help you find ways to help you cope with the stress in your life.


Aziza Giga-Hirji MSW, RSW specializes in the areas of stress management and communication, as well as many others. For more information on Aziza, her work, or other articles she’s written for Living Well click here to link to her full bio page.