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Step up to a Healthier You with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

Stress Management

Learning to cope with your stress.

The Relaxation Response:

The relaxation response is a natural system that fights against distress. It allows us to turn off the harmful body effects of stress. There are two ways we can stimulate the relaxation response:

The hypo-metabolic approach involves consciously slowing our bodies down. This is done through deep breathing, meditation, or simply through relaxation and quiet time. Therefore, you bring your body below homeostasis so that once the activity has stopped, we are triggered to return to homeostasis.

The hyper-metabolic approach is the approach that involves any kind of physical activity where your movement makes your heart beat faster. This kind of physical activity stimulates the body so that it is triggered to return to homeostasis once the activity has stopped. Examples would be a brisk walk, any aerobic activity and sports.


Knowing how to cope with stress does not come naturally to most of us. We have to learn it, like any other skill. To help control your stress, especially when caused by something you can’t control, try acceptance.

  • Self-talk: repeat phrases to yourself, such as “Things will get better” or “It’s a learning experience.”
  • Keep a good outlook: you’re more likely to find a way out.
  • Seek counselling: it’s not a sign of weakness; it takes strength to admit you may not be able to “go it alone.”
  • Relax: get away; sometimes you need a little distance from your problems to figure out how to deal with them; investigate formal methods of relaxation therapy if this is a new concept for you.


Another key coping tool is being able to put your stress into perspective. So often, we worry or become upset about things that never happen or that we can do little about anyway. When you feel this happening, ask yourself three questions:

  • How important to me is this situation?
  • Can I do anything about it or do I have no control over it?
  • Will this matter to me in six months or one year?

Tips for coping with your stress:

  • Manage your time by picking one urgent task and work on it. Once that task has been completed, then move on to the next.
  • Be realistic. If you are overwhelmed at home or at work, learn to say, “No!”
  • Don’t try to be perfect.
  • Visualize yourself managing a stressful situation at work effectively.
  • Use relaxation techniques such as meditation or a brisk walk to clear your mind.
  • Exercising daily helps both the body and mind.
  • Find a hobby that you enjoy.
  • Take on a healthy lifestyle. This includes getting adequate rest, eating right, exercising and limiting use of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Talk with others. Friends and family can provide great support and guidance.
  • Be flexible. Make allowances for other people’s opinions and try to compromise.
  • Don’t be overly critical.
  • Have fun and laugh often.