Stress management

Stress is the wear and tear our bodies experience as we adjust to our changing environment. In life, we can’t avoid all stress, so our goal is not to eliminate stress but learn how to manage it. Ideally, you’ll find your optimal level of stress that will motivate you instead of overwhelming you.


What are the sources of stress?

There are many different sources of stress including but not limited to:

  • Transition issues/times of change
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Pressure to succeed
  • Self-doubt
  • Uncomfortable situations
  • Co-op interviews during mid-terms
  • Moving house

You may notice as you go through life that some causes of stress are in your control, but many are not; some stress is inevitable and even good events cause us stress; and all change is stressful, we cannot totally avoid stress in our lives.

What are the signs of stress? 

Signs range from physical to emotional and are different for everyone, but can include:

How do you cope with stress?

If your difficulty lies in part with a physical reaction to stressful situations, you can address this with physical means. Deep breathing, stretching, yoga, guided imagery, and meditation are some ways to trigger the relaxation response. Other physical strategies include:

  • Healthy sleep patterns – Try to maintain at least seven hours of sleep a night, and sleep at the same time every day if possible.
  • Nutrition – Try to eat three healthy meals a day based on nutrition guidelines in Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Exercise – Even low impact exercise like walking around campus or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make a big difference.

Cognitive strategies are more focused on the emotional and spiritual signs of stress. Try doing ones of these cognitive strategies the next time you find stress symptoms starting up:

  • Gratitude journaling: Every evening, as part of your bedtime routine, write down five things you are grateful for about that day. Some days they will be amazing things, sometimes simple joys, such as a walk in the sunshine or a friend’s smile. On tough days, focus on the basics (Ex. food on the table, I got out of bed, etc.)
  • Time management and study strategies.
  • Spend time regularly with people doing activities that are engaging and relaxing.
  • Encourage positive self-talk and beliefs within yourself.

Life can be so busy and feel like there are so many demands on your time, make sure you take time for yourself as the term goes on. If you’d like to learn more about stress management, try our Stress Management video seminar.