Learn how to reduce stress at work and home with routines you can start today.
Since the pandemic, mental health issues have risen globally and in Canada. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, one in five people in Canada lives with a mental illness each year. Of these mental illnesses, mood and anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent. The Commission estimates that by 2041, people living with a mood or anxiety disorder will skyrocket to 4.9 million.
Stress and anxiety can have a profound impact on work and home life. According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), those with a mental illness are more likely to be unemployed. Additionally, a workplace leave for mental illness is near twice the cost of a leave caused by a physical illness.
April is Stress Awareness Month, which offers a welcome opportunity to take stock of your mental health and look for new ways to ease stress in your work and home life. This article will cover tips and strategies for coping with life’s most significant stressors, including expert insights from Sophie Bonneau (MA, PCC), founder and leadership coach at Queen Bee Coaching.
Whether your most significant life stressors are caused by work, finances, or family obligations, it’s essential to have the tools to recognize the signs of stress in yourself and others. According to Bonneau, a few of the most common symptoms of emotional stress include:
"Essentially, as adults, we've learned to emotionally regulate, and when we're under a lot of emotional stress, we lose our mastery of that emotional regulation more easily. So, our emotions feel closer to the surface, and we may have bigger reactions to things," Bonneau says. "So, when we're managing our emotional stress at a healthy level, and everything is good, we can just take it in stride. But sometimes it gets too much, the scales tip a little bit, and it becomes unmanageable, and you usually start to see those kinds of signs."
In her experiences working with clients, Bonneau says she’s found that managing stress in the workplace and in our personal lives has become more complicated and challenging in recent years. She believes that the complexities of our lives have increased, as have our expectations for ourselves and the unrelenting pressures we feel daily.
"I believe that humans have seasons and cycles, times when they are more stressed and less stressed. And generally, in workplaces of the past, there was more of a seasonal trend where there would be those high-performance times and those lulls," Bonneau says. "From my experiences working with my clients and through my own experiences, it feels like we're shortening or losing those lulls altogether. It's constant — there's this constant, nonstop demand."
In addition to the general life stressors many of us feel on a day-to-day basis, Bonneau listed some other common factors that can contribute to high-stress levels:
"We ask a lot of ourselves, and I think it takes its toll — it's not always sustainable," Bonneau says. "Inevitably, some of that stress can lead to burnout and more serious health problems as people are not always managing what they need to be managing sooner."
When it comes to keeping stress at bay, Bonneau suggests building easy habits in your everyday life that can improve your coping skills and strengthen resiliency. Her tips include:
Bonneau suggests taking it slow by making one small positive change a day. It’s essential to avoid feeling like you must completely change your routine all at once, which could lead to more overwhelm. It’s never too late to begin building healthier habits and incorporating positive ways that help you manage stress. Start small, take baby steps, and remember to act as your own best advocate. If you need additional support, lean on your EAP for services related to your needs.