Stress Awareness Month: Redefine your relationship with stress

There are times when a bit of stress can help motivate you throughout the day. Let’s face it, without the pressure of needing to accomplish tasks, we may not achieve very much at all. However, too much stress is unhealthy for us and can lead to anxiety and health problems.

The elements of stress can affect everyone and anyone, but where an event or a thought may cause stress in one person, it might not in another. One person’s stressful situation can be another person’s mild irritation. So, it’s important to redefine our relationship with stress to identify healthy stress from unhealthy stress, and ensure we stay in the safe zone to avoid negative consequences. 

Recognize triggers and causes of stress 

Stress is our body’s natural response to something uncomfortable, and sometimes anticipating a stressful situation can be worse than the situation itself. Our body does not know the difference and reacts the same to a negative thought or a negative situation. Different people have different thoughts and events in their lives that trigger them to feel a lot of stress, a little, or none at all. So, it’s important to recognize your triggers and causes of stress and avoid them, if possible, or learn to manage them before they become a barrier to good health.     

Stress is NUTS! 

It’s useful to identify sources of stress to see what is driving you NUTS. Examine which of these four characteristics could be the actual cause of most of your stress: 

  • Novelty: Something new that you have not experienced before 
  • Unpredictability: Something you did not anticipate would occur 
  • Threat to your ego: Your competence and self-esteem feel under threat 
  • Sense of control: You think you have little or no control over the situation 

The way you respond to stress makes a big difference to your overall well-being. Change your relationship with stress by allowing yourself an opportunity to press pause. If you find yourself suddenly reacting to a stressful moment rather than responding to it, you could benefit from a simple grounding technique to get it under control.  

Box breathing method  

Grounding techniques can relieve stress by grounding or anchoring you in the present moment. A simple grounding tool you can use to reduce stress immediately is the box breathing method (also known as the 4 4 4 technique). This can be done in front of a computer monitor, laptop screen, or any object with four corners. You can even use your shoulders and feet to represent four corners for this method. 

Start at one corner and breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and go to the next corner and repeat. This technique allows you to visually track and control deep, slow breathing to calm you down instantly. 

The Wellness and Learning Initiatives from guard.meCARES has lots of mental wellness webinars you can access, including some relating to stress like this one: Is it time to worry? 

If you are struggling with unmanageable stress right now and need someone to talk to about this, please reach out to a keep.meSAFE counsellor.  

Please remember, we’re always here to help you with Real People and Real Solutions for Real Life. 

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