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Stress is a reaction to a situation—it isn’t about the actual situation. We usually feel stressed when we think that the demands of the situation are greater than our resources to deal with that situation. For example, someone who feels comfortable speaking in public may not worry about giving a presentation, while someone who isn’t confident in their skills may feel a lot of stress about an upcoming presentation. Common sources of stress may include major life events, like moving or changing jobs. Long-term worries, like a long-term illness or parenting, can also feel stressful. Even daily hassles like dealing with traffic can be a source of stress.

What can I do about it?

There is no right way to deal with stress. The tips below are common strategies that are helpful for many people.

Is your job, school, a relationship, or worries about money causing stress? Are unimportant, surface problems hiding deeper problems? Once you know what the real problem is, you can do something about it.  

What can you do, and what are the possible outcomes? Remember, sometimes solving a problem means doing the best you can—even if it isn’t perfect—or asking for help. Once you’ve decided on a solution, divide the steps into manageable pieces and work on one piece at a time. Improving your problem-solving skills is a long-term strategy that can help you feel like you’re in control again. 

You may find it helpful to talk about your stress. Loved ones may not realize that you’re having a hard time. Once they understand, they may be able to help. If you need to talk with someone outside your own circle of loved ones, your family doctor may be able to refer you to a counsellor, or you may have access to one through your school, workplace, or faith community. 

Stress can come up when there are too many things going on. Learning to say no is a real skill that takes practice. 

The way you think about situations affects the way you respond to them. Unhelpful thoughts, such as believing that everything must be perfect or expecting the worst possible outcome, can make problems seem bigger than they really are. 

There are many useful books, websites, and courses to help you cope with stress. There are also counsellors who specialize in stress. There may be stress management courses and workshops available through your community centre, workplace, or school.