Mental Health Factors
Stress is a physiological reaction of the body to any demand being placed upon it.
These days, people typically use the word "stress" or "stressed" to refer to the body's reaction when demands exceed a person's capacity to cope. While this notion of stress has negative connotations, a certain amount of stress is necessary and desirable in our lives.
At a reasonable level, stress can make us feel challenged, motivated and can enhance performance. Too little stress, on the other hand, can lead to boredom and low mood. Even situations commonly regarded as positive—the birth of a child, being promoted or moving to a new home—can be stressful in relation to the demands we face in our day to day lives.
It's important to remember that individuals will experience the same stressful situation in different ways, and that personal and situational factors can make a huge difference in outcomes.
There are several sources of negative stress. Two major categories include workplace and home and family.
Workplace stressors are the subject of much research and debate. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety defines stress as, "the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker."
People often cite the challenge of finding a balance between family and personal life demands and job responsibilities as a source of stress, and stress experienced in one area of life can compound stress in another.
Home & family
- General time constraints
- Child or elder care demands
- Family, marital and interpersonal conflict
- Health issues
- Financial problems
Given that stressors can come from several sources, there's an opportunity to reduce the impacts of stress using a range of strategies.
You can find advice on practical strategies to help deal with stress, from simple deep breathing to more complex issues. The Canadian Mental Health Association has prepared some tips to help cope with stress, which offers basic stress reduction advice, including the importance of recognizing symptoms and sources of stress.
In the workplace
The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety's Stress at Work (PDF, 612KB) provides a summary of workplace factors that impact stress levels and offers a well-proven approach for employees and supervisors for addressing workplace stress. This resource may help you pinpoint the source of stress and encourage you to consider ideas for improving your workplace conditions that contribute to stress.
Increased control over the work environment can potentially help you reduce stress for yourself or your work group. Employees and supervisors are advised to discuss workplace stressors and identify and create opportunities for change. This strategy can reduce stress levels and enhance workplace innovation.
Losing someone close to you can be very difficult and grief is a very normal process. The experience of grief is different for everyone, but there are three stages that most people go through.
- Numbness or shock: Often described as feeling very little
- Disorganization: Physical and emotional symptoms return, including anger, guilt and emotional upheaval
- Reorganization: Moving past the pain and gaining a new awareness of the value of people and experiences
What you can do
As you move through the stages of grief, there are some things you can do to support yourself. These include:
- Be with caring people
- Take as much time as you need
- Express your feelings
- Accept a changed life
- Reach out for help
- Take care of your physical health
- Support others in their grief
- Come to terms with your loss
- Make a new beginning
- Postpone major life changes
Communicating to others, including your supervisor, is important in this time, especially if you require flexibility.
Many people with chronic illness experience depression or anxiety. In fact, depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness. Serious illness can cause major changes in lifestyle and limit your mobility and independence, so it's not surprising that mental health issues can result.
Mental health issues can also affect the management and treatment of chronic illnesses, which can impact how successful you are in managing your health conditions. Proactively manage your disease, practice mental health awareness and develop positive mental health habits.
It's important to monitor the signs of mental health issues in people who experience chronic illness. Support and treatment are available.