In Self-Care

Are you feeling constantly stressed out? Do you feel that no matter what you do, you can’t avoid unnecessary stress? If so, you’re not alone.

According to the American Psychological Association, stress is one of the most common mental health concerns in the United States. Statistics Canada reported in 2021 that one in four Canadians aged 18 or older suffer from such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

What Does Stress Mean?

But before we get into ways that you can manage your stress, it’s important to understand what exactly constitutes as “stress.” The Mayo Clinic defines stress as “a physical, emotional, or behavioral response that occurs when a person perceives a threat”. In other words, any time something happens – whether it’s good or bad – that causes us to feel overwhelmed or anxious, that’s considered stress.

Shot of a young businesswoman feeling stressed out in a demanding office environment at work

Do More, Be Better, Have It All!

We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us that we need to be doing more, be better, and have it all. This pressure can be overwhelming and can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress. While some amount of stress is normal and even necessary for survival, too much can have negative consequences on our mental and physical health. Symptoms of chronic stress can include headaches, upset stomachs, chest pain, problems sleeping, and fatigue.

Research Supported Tips for Stress Management

In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by stress. It’s even harder to know where to turn and no on wants to waste their time on fads or gimmicks – we’re not here to waste your time.

We’ve got some gold for you here, our tips are based on data from research into similar areas that’s been shown to help.

Chronic Stress Can Lead to Serious Health Consequences

If left untreated, chronic stress can lead to more serious illness and problems such as anxiety disorders and depression. Sometimes, stress can be helpful-it can motivate us to get things done and help us stay alert. But too much stress can be harmful, leading to health problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.

But don’t worry! There are plenty of things that you can do to help manage your stress levels. Below are five science-backed tips for reducing unnecessary stress in your life.

Strong young smiling people stretching in a gym before exercising to reduce stress

1. Physical Exercise Reduces Unnecessary Stress

Exercise is a great way to manage your stress. It releases tension, reduces anxiety, and can even increase your energy levels. When you’re feeling stressed out, it’s important to get up and move around. Exercise helps to release endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel good. And when you feel good, you’re less likely to be stressed out.

How Physical Exercise Reduces Stress

Physical activity is one of the most efficient stress management strategies. A number of changes occur in the body when we’re active. Our brains release endorphins, which are hormones that have mood-boosting effects. Not only does this make us feel better physically, but it also helps us to feel better mentally, too.

Endorphins, the Body’s Natural Pain Killers

Sometimes called the body’s natural morphine, endorphins are hormones that are released by the brain in response to stress or pain. They are because they have painkilling and sedative effects. Endorphins are also associated with positive feelings, such as happiness, excitement, and euphoria. They are also responsible for the “runner’s high” feeling that people often experience after a long jog or run.

In addition to endorphins, exercise also releases neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which can improve moods and help to combat stress.

Exercise is a Great Way to Manage Stress

It’s no secret that exercise is good for our physical health. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that exercise is also great to manage stress. In fact, there are a number of benefits that come with regular exercise when it comes to our mental well-being.

  1. Exercise can help to manage stress and anxiety. It does this by promoting the release of endorphins and neurotransmitters which help to boost and balance mood.
  2. Exercise also helps to improve our sleep. Sleep is crucial for managing stress. Exercise helps to improve sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
  3. Exercise can improve our self-esteem and confidence. Which can help us to feel better about ourselves and our ability to cope with stress.

Exercise is an effective way to eliminate unnecessary stress. When we are stressed, our bodies release tension, which can lead to anxiety. Regular exercise helps to release this tension, and reduce our stress.

How Do I Manage Stress With Exercise?

When most people think of physical exercise, they think of activities like running, biking, and swimming. However, there are many different types of exercise that are great at managing stress. In fact, physical exercise is any activity that causes your body to move and use energy.

If you’re not used to an active lifestyle you should talk with your doctor before beginning.

Here’s how to reduce unnecessary stress with physical exercise:

  • Beginners should start slow. Try moderate activity for 15-20 mins, at least three times as week. 30 minutes, five times per week has been shown to be the most effective amount to positively impact your stress levels, so try to work your way up there.
  • Activities can range greatly. Choose something that matches your level of fitness. Going for a walk, hiking outdoors, playing sports, running, or going to the gym are all valid ways to increase your level of activity. The important thing is to find an activity that you enjoy and that fits into your lifestyle.

woman reading recipe before making a stress reducing healthy meal

2. Eat a Healthy Diet to Reduce Unnecessary Stress

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that eating a well-rounded diet can is effective for stress management. Let’s get started!

The Link between Diet and Mental Health

There is a clear link between diet and mental health, as what we eat can affect our mood and emotions. A good diet can help with stress and keep our minds and bodies happy.

Depressive symptoms are often linked with unhealthy eating habits, as people who are depressed may not have the energy or motivation to cook a healthy meal. Instead, they may reach for quick, unhealthy snacks that can actually make them feel worse.

Processed foods and sugar can cause stress by affecting our blood sugar levels. When we eat sugary or processed foods, our blood sugar rises quickly. This causes our bodies to release a lot of insulin, which in turn causes our blood sugar to crash. This roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows can be very stressful for our bodies and can lead to symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, and fatigue.

counter top filled with vegetables and fruit

How Can Your Diet Help Managing Stress?

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is important, as these foods are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which can boost our moods and protect against the negative effects of stress.

Some of the most effective diets for stress reduction include the Mediterranean diet, the vegan diet, and the anti-inflammatory diet.

  • The Mediterranean diet is a great way of eating that is based on the traditional cuisine of countries in the Mediterranean region, such as Italy, Greece, and Spain. This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and olive oil, and low in saturated fat and sugar.
  • The vegan diet is a plant-based diet that excludes all animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy. Vegans consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, which provide important vitamins and minerals.
  • The anti-inflammatory diet is a healthy way of eating that focuses on foods that reduce inflammation in the body. This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants, and low in processed foods and sugar.

These diets are high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and olive oil, which provide important vitamins and minerals that can help to keep us calm and collected under pressure.

A nutritious diet can help to protect against the negative effects of stress, boost our moods, and keep us feeling energized.

How to Eat a Healthy Diet to Eliminate Unnecessary Stress

If you’re not used to it, and it’s not apart of your lifestyle, eating healthy can seem daunting. But, like anything else in life, it just takes some getting used to. And, once you do get used to it, it’ll be a breeze.

Here’s how to reduce unnecessary stress by eating a healthy diet:

  • Make sure you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables. The recommended amount is about two to three cups per day. But, of course, it depends on your individual caloric needs.
  • Incorporate whole grains into your diet. This means opting for whole wheat bread instead of white bread, for example.
  • Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats. You can do this by avoiding processed foods and cooking with healthy oils, like olive oil.
  • Choose lean protein sources. This includes things like chicken, fish, tofu, and beans.
  • Drink plenty of water. It’s recommended that you drink eight glasses per day.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. This includes sodas, juices, and sports drinks.

Finally, don’t forget to enjoy your food! Eating should be a pleasurable experience, not a chore. If you can stick to these tips, you’ll be on your way to eating a great diet in no time. Remember, it’s all about baby steps.

Shot of an young woman sitting and talking to her psychologist during a consultation to address her stress issues

3. Therapy to Reduce Unnecessary Stress

There are many forms of therapy that have been proven to be effective in reducing unnecessary stress. Some of these therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

These therapies can help you learn how to deal with stressful situations more effectively and manage your stress levels more effectively.

What is Therapy and How Does it Help?

Therapy is a process that helps people understand and change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. There are different types of therapy, but all of them aim to help people overcome problems in their lives.

Therapy can help you deal with stress in several ways.

  1. Provide an outlet to express your feelings. This can be helpful because it can prevent you from bottling up your emotions and eventually exploding.
  2. Therapy can help you learn how to deal with stressful situations. This can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by stress and instead manage it in a more manageable way.
  3. Provide you with support and guidance. As you work through your stress it can be helpful to have someone to help guide you towards the light and away from common pitfalls, such as self-doubt, shame, or guilt. This can be incredibly helpful, especially if you feel like you are struggling to cope with stress on your own.

woman sitting practicing mindfulness meditation to improve her quality of life

The different types of therapy that have been proven to be effective

There are many therapies that have been proven to be effective in managing unnecessary stress. Some of these therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness-based stress reduction. These therapies can help you learn how to deal with stressful situations more effectively and manage your stress more effectively.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that helps you change the way you think about stress. This type of therapy can help you learn how to deal with stressful situations in a more positive and productive way.

Relaxation techniques are a tool that can help you reduce your stress levels. These techniques can include things like breathing exercises, meditation, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a type of therapy that helps you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. This type of therapy can help you learn how to control your stress by becoming more mindful of your thoughts and feelings.

If you are struggling with unnecessary stress, consider seeking out one of these types of therapy. These therapies can help you learn how to deal with stress in a more effective and productive way.

Qualified, Caring Therapists Are Out There

Psych Company is here to provide you with the best evidence-based therapies to help reduce your stress levels. We offer a variety of therapies that have been proven to be effective in managing unnecessary stress.

Our therapists are experienced and qualified, and they are here to help you learn how to deal with stress in a more effective way. If you are struggling to cope with the stress in your life, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to help you get started on your journey to reducing stress.

woman looking at herself in the mirror challenging her negative thoughts

4. Positive Thinking to Eliminate Unnecessary Stress

There is a great deal of evidence that proves positive thinking can be an effective way to eliminate unnecessary stress in your life. In this section, we will explore some of the most effective techniques for using positive thinking to achieve this goal. We will also look at some of the research that supports these methods.

What is Positive Thinking?

Positive thinking is the belief that good things will happen, and that we can control our own destiny. It’s about looking on the bright side, and expecting the best. Some people might say that positive thinking is a form of denial, but research shows that it’s actually an effective way to cope with stress.

How to Think More Positive?

If you’ve never done it before thinking positive can be a tough ask. Especially when you’re feeling down about a situation. But there are some scientifically proven ways to begin thinking more positive, even if it feels like the last thing you want to do.

Start by practicing gratitude. Studies have shown that people who regularly take time to think of things they’re grateful for are much happier overall than those who don’t. It doesn’t have to be anything big either. Something as simple as being grateful for your bed at night or your partner’s cooking can make a difference.

Try reframing your negative thoughts. If you catch yourself thinking something like “I’m such a failure,” stop and think of it in a different way. For example, “I’m trying my best and that’s all that matters.” It might sound cheesy, but it works.

Some common negative thoughts:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I don’t deserve this
  • This is too hard
  • Life is pointless
  • Nobody loves me
  • I’m a failure

Negative thoughts are, unfortunately, a part of life. But there are ways to counter them. The next time you find yourself thinking something negative, try one of these techniques:

  • Dissect the thought. Is it really true? What really evidence do you have to support it?
  • Talk back to the thought. What would you say to a friend in the same situation as you? Can you be a better friend to yourself?
  • Reframe the thought. How can you look at it in a more positive light? Are you making it out to be worse than it really is?
  • Distract yourself. Do something else, anything else. Go for a walk, call a friend, watch a movie. Just get your mind off of the negative thought.

Cut yourself some slack. We are our own worst critics and we often expect way more from ourselves than we ever would from anyone else. So the next time you make a mistake or don’t meet your own high standards, give yourself a break.

Learn to let go. Learning to let go is an important step on the road to self-acceptance. It can be tough to let go of the things that are holding us back from accepting ourselves. Maybe we’re our own worst critic and find it difficult to forgive ourselves for our mistakes. Or maybe we’re carrying around a lot of guilt or shame that we can’t seem to shake.

Forgive yourself. For both your mistakes and your shortcomings. Let go of the guilt and shame and make peace with who you are. And finally, be gentle with yourself. Accept that you’re human and you’re going to make mistakes sometimes. Try not to be too hard on yourself, and give yourself the space to grow and learn.

Be mindful. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and noticing your thoughts and feelings without judgement. There are many apps and online courses you can do to get started, it’s also supported by research to help with reducing stress.

How Does Positive Thinking Help Reduce Unnecessary Stress?

People who practice positive thinking believe that their thoughts and emotions play a major role in their overall health. Positive thinking helps people to focus on the good things in life, which can lead to a more optimistic outlook and reduced levels of stress.

  1. Positive thinking has a positive effect on stress. In one study, participants were asked to complete a stressful task, either while thinking positively or negatively about the experience. The results showed that those who thought positively about the task experienced less stress and anxiety than those who thought negatively.
  2. Positive self-talk helped with stress. Participants were asked to complete a stressful task and then provide feedback about their experience. The results showed that those who used positive self-talk reported lower levels of stress and anxiety than those who did not.
  3. Positive thinking has been shown to improve immune function and reduce disease risk. When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol, which can interfere with your immune system and increase your risk of disease. By reducing stress, positive thinking can help to keep your immune system functioning properly and help protect you from disease.

woman walking in the woods to improve her stress while taking care of her needs

5. Self-Care to Reduce Unnecessary Stress

It is no secret that unnecessary stress can take a toll on both our physical and mental health. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of illness in Canada. While there are many things we cannot control, there are ways to manage our stress by prioritizing self-care.

What is Self-care and Why Is It Important for Stress Management?

Self-care is the ability to take care of yourself. Fundamentally you do this by being aware of how you feel, and by controlling how you act, and what you do. Prioritizing self-care is a step towards taking better care of yourself. In a way that may be unfamiliar to some, you then begin to depend on yourself to stay healthy and happy. It may take time to depend on yourself in this manner. However, once you do, it will be easier to achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being.

First and foremost, self-care is necessary for our overall well-being. When we take the time to care for ourselves, we are better able to handle stress and challenges in our lives. Additionally, self-care can help improve our relationships with others by making us more patient and understanding. Finally, self-care can boost our mood and make us happier overall.

Why Saying “No” Can Be a Good Thing?

The phrase “No can do” is often seen as a negative, but it doesn’t have to be. People give themselves a lot more stress than they need, so much so this item deserves it’s own place in our self-care stress management section. Remember, you’re the boss of yourself! Saying no can be a good thing when it comes to taking care of you.

When you learn how to say no in a way that is respectful and clear, you can avoid giving yourself the extra stress that comes from feeling overworked and overwhelmed. Here are some tips for saying no in a way that is effective and stress-free:

  • Be firm. When you are asked to do something, it is important to be clear about what you can and cannot do. If you are not sure if you can do something, it is better to say no than to agree and then have to back out later.
  • Be specific. When you say no, be specific about what you are declining. This will help the person understand why you are not able to do the task they asked of you.
  • Keep your tone positive. You don’t need to sound apologetic when you say no. In fact, a positive tone will make it easier for the person to understand and accept your decision.
  • Say it with confidence. Own your decision to say no! Confidence will show that you know what is best for yourself and that you are not just saying no because you don’t want to do the task.

How Does Self-Care Help Reduce Unnecessary Stress?

Self-care is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. It’s evidence-based, and proven to be an effective way to manage stress and improve overall health. When you take time for yourself each day to relax and rejuvenate, you’re giving your body and mind the break they need to function at their best.

The benefits of effective self-care can be numerous:

  • Improve your health. Physical, mental, and emotional health can all be improved with self-care.
  • Relieve stress and anxiety. When you’re taking care of yourself, it’s easier to manage stress and anxiety.
  • Boost your mood. When you feel good about yourself, it shows in your demeanor and attitude.Increase productivity. When you’re well-rested and not stressed out, you’re able to work more efficiently and get more done.
  • Improve your relationships. When you’re taking care of yourself, it’s easier to be there for others.
  • Improved work performance. When you have less stress in your life, you’re able to focus more at work and be more productive. For some this can be a huge help to reduce unnecessary stress.

Examples of Self-Care Activities

Some people may have no idea were to get started with self-care. You’ve either been in the grind for so long you forget what you were into before you started, or you simply have no idea where to begin.

Here’s a list of items to get the ball rolling:

  • Taking a relaxing bath
  • Reading your favorite book
  • Going for a walk outdoors
  • Listening to calming music
  • Meditating
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercising
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Practicing yoga or stretching
  • Writing in a journal

These are only a few examples, but there are endless possibilities when it comes to self-care. The most important thing is to find what works for you, what truly matters to you, and make it a priority in your life.

Tips for Working Self-care Into Your Routine

You’re stressed, have no time, how can you possibly work self-care into your routine? You may have to sacrifice something to make it work, but you may find it’s worth it.

Tip to make time for self-care to help reduce unnecessary stress:

  • Wake up earlier. Set your alarm clock for 30 minutes to an hour earlier than you normally would. Use this time to do something for yourself, something that relaxes or reenergizes you.
  • Take a break at work. If you can, step away from your desk during lunch or take a few 15-minute breaks throughout the day to move your body, get some fresh air, or do something calming.
  • Make it a priority. Set aside time each week specifically for self-care. Add it to your calendar and treat it like any other important appointment.
  • Set boundaries. Learn to say no when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stretched too thin. This will help you have more time and energy for self-care.

Self-care is a vital part of reducing stress in your life. When you make it a priority, you’re able to live a healthier, happier, and more productive life. Give yourself the gift of self-care today! You deserve it.

Psychologist performing research

Supporting Research

Research supporting physical exercise as an important part of reducing stress:

  1. A study by the University of Maryland Medical Center found that being active can reduce stress levels and improve mental health – Smith, J Carson. “Effects of emotional exposure on state anxiety after acute exercise.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise vol. 45,2 (2013): 372-8.
  2. A meta-analysis of 11 treatment outcome studies found exercise to help reduce depression – Olex, S., & Olex, K. (2018). Effects of exercise on mental health. In D. A. Monti & A. B. Newberg (Eds.), Integrative psychiatry and brain health (pp. 50–96). Oxford University Press.
  3. A study in college populations found physical activity to reduce perceived stress and hassles – Nguyen-Michel, S.T., Unger, J.B., Hamilton, J. and Spruijt-Metz, D. (2006), Associations between physical activity and perceived stress/hassles in college students. Stress and Health, 22: 179-188.

Research supporting stress management through diet:

  1. High intake of fruit, vegetables, fish, and whole grains may be associated with reduced depression risk – Lai, Jun S et al. “A systematic review and meta-analysis of dietary patterns and depression in community-dwelling adults.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 99,1 (2014): 181-97. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.069880
  2. Healthier diets were found to be associated with good emotional well-being – Meegan AP, Perry IJ, Phillips CM. The Association between Dietary Quality and Dietary Guideline Adherence with Mental Health Outcomes in Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis. Nutrients. 2017 Mar 5;9(3):238. doi: 10.3390/nu9030238.

Research which supports therapy to manage unnecessary stress:

  1. CBT and MBSR were both effective at reducing severity of anxiety, worry, and other related issues – Joanna J. Arch, Catherine R. Ayers, Aaron Baker, Erin Almklov, Derek J. Dean, Michelle G. Craske, Randomized clinical trial of adapted mindfulness-based stress reduction versus group cognitive behavioral therapy for heterogeneous anxiety disorders, Behaviour Research and Therapy, Volume 51, Issues 4–5, 2013, Pages 185-196, ISSN 0005-7967, –
  2. “Participants in both long- and short-term interventions showed significant reduction in anxiety and perceived stress relative to control groups” – Yusufov, M., Nicoloro-SantaBarbara, J., Grey, N. E., Moyer, A., & Lobel, M. (2019). Meta-analytic evaluation of stress reduction interventions for undergraduate and graduate students. International Journal of Stress Management, 26(2), 132–145.

Research that supports the stress reduction benefits of positive thinking:

  1. Positive affect showed an important stress-buffering effects in different contexts through its impact on differential neurobiological systems – Henk van Steenbergen, Ellen RA de Bruijn, Anna CK van Duijvenvoorde, Anne-Laura van Harmelen, “How positive affect buffers stress responses”, Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, Volume 39, 2021, Pages 153-160, ISSN 2352-1546,
  2. “Our study is the first to elucidate the neurocognitive mechanisms by which positive attitude influences learning and academic achievement” – Chen, Lang et al. “Positive Attitude Toward Math Supports Early Academic Success: Behavioral Evidence and Neurocognitive Mechanisms.” Psychological science vol. 29,3 (2018): 390-402. doi:10.1177/0956797617735528

Research supporting self-care is effective an stress management strategy:

  1. Results suggested that a key mechanism through which self-care may impact well-being is by reducing stress – Rupert, P. A., & Dorociak, K. E. (2019). Self-care, stress, and well-being among practicing psychologists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 50(5), 343–350.
  2. Yoga group experience a significant reduction in work-related stress and stress adaptation – Effects of Yoga on Stress, Stress Adaption, and Heart Rate Variability Among Mental Health Professionals—A Randomized Controlled Trial Shu-Ling Lin SW, MS, Ching-Ya Huang MS, Shau-Ping Shiu SW, MS, Shu-Hui Yeh RN, ANP, PhD
  3. Results include a 32% decrease in perceived stress – Jeffrey M. Greeson, Michael J. Toohey, Michelle J. Pearce, An Adapted, Four-Week Mind–Body Skills Group for Medical Students: Reducing Stress, Increasing Mindfulness, and Enhancing Self-Care, EXPLORE, Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015, Pages 186-192, ISSN 1550-8307,
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