Men’s Health A-Z



Stress: What is it?

Know the Facts

Most people cannot avoid stress. It seems to be a fact of life. Work pressures, family demands, health problems and time constraints are just some of the many sources of stress in daily life. Sometimes a small amount of stress is ok, but too much or prolonged stress can make us unwell.

Stress happens when the body’s instinct to defend itself kicks in. Whether it is a car speeding towards you or a deadline approaching at your job, the body creates physical reactions to challenging situations.

Knowing how to deal with stress in a healthy way isn’t necessarily something that comes naturally. It is worth learning though since excessive stress can lead to adverse mental and physical symptoms.

Often, you cannot change the source of your stress. What you can change is the way you deal with it.

Recognizing Stress

Be Aware

It is important to know what triggers stress symptoms in your life. The more you are aware of stress triggers, the better you can deal with them.

Over the next few days, be mindful of any stressful situations that come up and think about your normal way of coping. Once you get a sense of how you might normally deal with stress, you can start trying new ways to manage your stress.

Signs of Stress

A number of problems can be the result of excessive stress in your life. They are your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. If you consistently notice these, talk to a doctor or stress management specialist.

  • An increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems
What Can You Do?

Try Some New Techniques

Here are some simple stress management techniques that might help you better manage your stress. No single coping skill will let you completely manage all your stress, all the time. It is best to develop a set of tools to use when stressful situations come up.

  • Exercise is a great way to release the body’s pent-up energy. It is one of the most effective stress relievers. Adding more exercise to your life simply makes you feel better overall.
  • Healthy eating helps make sure the body has the energy and nutrients it needs to maintain concentration and for the brain to function properly. 
  • Get a good night’s sleep to make sure fatigue isn’t interfering with your ability to respond to stressful situations. Be sure your room is as dark as possible.
  • Talk it out with a family member or friend. Often, sharing a stressful situation with someone trusted helps put things in perspective. Seek out a counsellor or look for support groups if necessary.
  • Relax by doing something you love. Be intentional about taking time out to temporarily forget about the things that cause you stress. Men are good at taking care of others; remember to take care of yourself once in a while.
  • Set priorities and schedule your time. Set time aside to do the things that are most important to you. Taking on too many commitments can be a big source of stress.
  • Deep breathing exercises can have a positive effect on your stress level. Lie on your back on a flat surface, place one hand on your stomach just above your navel, and place the other hand on your chest. Breathe slowly in through your nose then hold your breath for a second before breathing slowly out through your nose. Do this for several minutes.

Talk to a Doctor

For help treating symptoms of stress, ask a doctor for advice or to refer you to a health professional with special training.