By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola

The stress response helps to keep us alert, attentive and mobilize us into action.  This is a good thing and has protected us throughout our existence.

Yet, times have changed, and we have more going on around us, more to deal with and more stress.  Research is revealing how an unchecked physiological stress responses can hurt our health.

We can’t control all the stressors in our life, but we can do something to bring the stress response down a notch. Check out these stress management strategies that may help in your lifestyle.

Movement – Yoga, Walking and  Exercise

Exercise done in 20-30 minutes, and that involves high intensity intervals, increases endorphins and regulates stress hormone levels.  Be mindful of overtraining, which lead to an increase of stress hormones.

That said, you don’t have to go hard to manage stress.  Walking, yoga and stretching can also deliver the same effects as short burst, high intensity, workouts.

Spending Time in Nature

Spending time in nature has been associated with less stress and anxiety.  Studies repeatedly prove this connection.  Spending time outdoors, taking in the sights of the trees and other vegetation, breathing fresh air and getting sunlight are all feel good factors.


Eating well is a significant protective factor.  Proper fueling with nutrient rich food, and at regular intervals, prevents blood sugar decline.  Low blood sugar leads to irritability, which during busy days, or moments of high demands, amplifies the feeling of stress.

Deep Breathing, Meditation and Prayer

Deep breathing and mediation brings mindfulness to what we are thinking and feeling.  Learning how to quiet the over thinking, self-editing, dwelling, critiquing and analyzing that can cause mental exhaustion and higher stress levels is an invaluable skill.

For some, prayer can also relieve stress by providing comfort for those who feel a connection to a greater whole.  It can be a way of expressing hurt, confusion or loneliness, and foster a feeling of not having to bear burdens alone.


There are many acupuncture points that calm the nervous system.  When calming points are used, people often feel very relaxed and may even sleep during a treatment session.  Acupuncture treatments over time can lead to less stress, better sleep and energy levels; making people more resilient.


Emotional health is just as important as physical health.  Having an unbiased and skilled person to speak freely to about frustrations, upset, insecurities and past trauma can help ease this journey through life.  Some people find a great counsellor on their first visit.  If this isn’t the case, I always recommend not giving up and to continue to work towards finding one that’s a good match.  This can be difficult, but once the right counsellor is found, the emotional support they provide can significantly help with stress management.

Surround Yourself With Positive People

This can be difficult, especially if the people around to you at the workplace or socially are negative.  Negative people can add stress to a person’s life.

Creating stronger relationships with people who have a more positive attitude, energy or outlook can be part of a long term health goal.  Having more positive people around helps to buffer the stress.  They also help provide positive energy when times are tough.

Positive Messages, Music, Affirmations

Restructuring your relationships to include more positive people can take time.  To add to the last suggestion, if you find yourself surrounded by negative people, you need to turn up the volume on the positive messages that you are consuming.

This means what you read, listen to, watch or tell yourself needs to be positive as often as possible.  This can be in the form of good articles or books, fun music, listening to speakers who have positive messages, picking a positive affirmation to say, watching funny movies, etc. This type of content helps build positivity and increase resiliency in stressful situations.

Just picking one, or a certain combination of these strategies, can help bring stress levels down.  Having lower stress levels builds stronger health.  For more help with stress management, or stress related health concerns, feel free to visit with me and I’d be happy to help.