From PPC Canada, Employee and Family wellness Programs

How to recognize and cope with stress

Stress is a natural part of our everyday life. Without any stress, life could lack challenge and excitement, but too much of it can be unpleasant and tiring. Stress is a physical and psychological response to a demand, a threat, or some kind of problem that requires a solution. It stimulates you and increases your level of awareness. The body’s reaction to stress is called the “fight or flight” response. These responses occur whether the stress is positive or negative in nature. Positive stress provides the means to express talents and energies and pursue talents. However, continual exposure to high or low and repetitive stress decreases the body’s ability to cope in general.

Woman sitting in front of a computerRecognizing stress

Short-term reactions to stress include faster heartbeat, increased sweating, rapid breathing and tense muscles. Long-term responses may include digestive problems, fatigue, increased blood pressure, sleeplessness or headaches. At the same time, a person may experience psychological responses, such as fear, worry, depression, irritability or despair. Excess stress can ­seriously interfere with your ability to perform effectively. It can affect your health, vitality and peace-of-mind, and personal and professional relationships.

Helpful strategies

The art of stress management is to keep yourself at a level of activity that is healthy and enjoyable. Stress is a process that escalates over time, so try to be aware of its early signs and make the necessary changes. Everyone handles stress differently, some better than others. Here are some tips to counteract the effects of stress on your body and your psyche.

  • Express yourself – You need someone to talk to, who will listen thoughtfully. Discussing your concerns with another person can be therapeutic to your emotional state and can have a calming effect on you physically.
  • Talk it over with yourself – We often have no control over the unpleasant events that happen in our lives, but we can change what we say to ourselves about these events. All our feelings are greatly affected by what we say to ourselves. Avoid:
    • Catastrophizing: “This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.” Take a step back and approach things in perspective.
    • Generalizing: “My brother doesn’t like me, therefore, no one will.” Try to remain rational and realistic in your thoughts.
    • Projecting: “I’m sure this isn’t going to work out.” Instead, try giving yourself positive affirmations, such as “I am doing the best I can in these circumstances, and I can be proud of that,” or “ I am a good person, with good intentions.” You can always control what you put into a situation, but you can rarely control the outcome. Focus positively on what you can control.
  • Start exercising – Walk your dog, go dancing, join a gym. Slowly increase your exercise level to include at least 20 minutes of exercise (preferably aerobic), three to five times per week.
  • Eat healthy – Reduce your alcohol intake and try to avoid sedatives. ­Reduce your consumption of caffeine and foods with an unhealthy proportion of refined sugar. Increase consumption of whole grains, healthy fats, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
  • Get in touch – Hug someone, hold hands or stroke a pet. Physical contact releases the hormone Oxytocin (sometimes referred to as the love hormone), which is a great way to relieve stress.
  • Practise rest and relaxation – Take six deep breaths. Breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Use your imagination to place yourself on the beach, or in some other pleasant place. Close your eyes and imagine the scene in detail, including all your senses. In just a couple of minutes you can re-experience the pleasure of actually being there. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep nightly.
  • Learn to laugh – Watch a comedy and make sure that others are with you (you’ll likely laugh more). Laughter is an excellent way to get your mind off life’s stresses and it is proven to aid in improving circulation and increasing relaxation.
  • Get up and stretch! – Stand up. Raise your arms above your head. Stretch the left side of your body and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Now, stretch the right side of your body and hold. Repeat these stretches several times throughout the day. You will be amazed at the stress-relieving effects of stretching.
  • Stop smoking – Nicotine is a stimulant (as well as a neurotoxin for that matter), and can increase your level of anxiety.

Seek help if needed

Seek help from family, friends and support groups. Make time in your week to have fun and socialize with friends. Choose to seek support from positive individuals.

If you feel overwhelmed by your situation, do not hesitate to get professional help. Depression and anxiety are common effects of chronic stress. Many people choose to seek professional help during stressful periods in their lives. Contact your member’s assistance provider, PPC Canada, to make arrangements to speak to a counsellor.

PPC Canada can help with stress and anxiety

Did you know that, as a member of the Law Society of BC, you and your immediate family members are eligible to receive free professional assistance?

PPC Canada provides services to ­assist with all of life’s challenges, including how to become more resistant to everyday stress. Below are some of the ways that PPC can assist you and your family:

  • Financial issues: consultation with certified financial professionals for debt management and financial planning.
  • Nutritional coaching: consultation and nutritional planning with a registered dietician.
  • Quitting smoking: PPC’s “Quitcare” program helps individuals to kick the habit with the help of trained coaches.
  • Counselling services: to assist you in becoming more stress resilient and to help create strategies to relieve anxiousness or any other related issues

For more information, call PPC at 1.800. 663.9099 or visit their website at

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