Mental Health and Stress

Mental health means striking a balance in all aspects of your life: social,physical, spiritual, economic and mental. Reaching a balance is a learning process. At times, you may tip the balance too much in one direction and have to find your footing again. Your personal balance will be unique, and your challenge will be to stay mentally healthy by keeping that balance.

  • Physical and Mental Health This dimension focuses on issues such as pediatric dental needs, mental health, health data collection, health insurance and navigation of the health delivery system.
  • Social-Emotional Stability The focal point of this dimension is providing family-friendly information on assessing and facilitating social and emotional development.
  • Quality Education The goal of this dimension is to improve children's development through quality education.external image 36316dede4bc45baab87d95ffff3d20e.gif
  • Safe and Nurturing Environment "From the crib to the playground" is a good description of the wide scope of this dimension's focus on creating a safe and nurturing environment within the home and neighborhood for children and families in our community.
  • Spiritual Foundation and Strength This dimension provides resources for nurturing the development of a child's spirit including qualities to teach and nurture, reading aloud, places to experience and adventuring in music, movement, drama and the visual arts.
  • Economic Stability This dimension will help hard-working families become financially stable and take the next steps to long-term independence.

Although the dimensions of health are listed separately, they interact and affect one another. A balance between dimensions is necessary in a healthylifestyle.


Bronfrenbrenner's model illustrates the understanding that human beings are influenced by, and exert influence when, a number of factors combine in
their environment. This model of human development fits well with the holistic model of health.

Every day we are faced with new situations, new people, and new challenges. The ways we adapt and cope with the demands of daily life influence our mental health. Good mental health involves living and coping with stress in our lives.

At the beginning of this section the question was posed: what does a healthy lifestyle mean? The holistic model presents the view that in order tobe a truly healthy person, one has to achieve health from many integratedphysical, mental, and spiritual perspectives.Most of us could probably list several attributes of physically healthy people,but mental health is somewhat more difficult to define. A great deal has been learned and written about people of "good mental health" that everyone accepts. Most people agree, that good mental health means being contentmost of the time. How then, does one define contentment?Self-satisfaction involves liking yourself and others, knowing and acceptingyour limitations, and being able to adapt to the changes and stresses of the world in which you live.

The American National Association of Mental Health lists three characteristics of mentally healthy individuals:

• They feel comfortable about themselves.
• They feel right about others.

• They are able to meet the demands of life.

What is Mental Illness?

Medically diagnosable illness that effects your way of life. It can range from having anxiety to addictions. Mental illness that effect your thinking, mood, and behaviour. It can result in biological development, and/or psychosocial factors.

Most Common Types of Mental Illnesses

  • Anxiety Disorder: The feeling of worry, uneasiness, or nervousness.
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD): Has trouble paying attention or staying still.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): A form of Autism
  • Behaviour Disorders (including Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorder (CD))
  • Mood Disorders (including Depression, Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depression))
  • Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia.
  • Schizophrenia: a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements.
  • Substance Abuse: a dependence on an addictive substance.
  • Tourette Syndrome: a neurological disorder, a compulsive utterance.

What is Resilience?

Resilience refers to the capacity of an entity or system to maintain and renew itself particularly in the presence of stressors, that is, when the existence or viability of the entity or system is challenged or threatened. Resilience can be observed as a dynamic phenomena in a variety of systems.

What is Psychological Resilience?

Psychological resilience refers to an individual's capacity to withstand stressors and not manifest psychology dysfunction, such as mental illness or persistent negative mood. Psychological stressors or "risk factors" are often considered to be experiences of major acute or chronic stress such as death of someone else, chronic illness, sexual, physical or emotional abuse, fear, unemployment and community violence.

If you regard happiness as coming from outside, you will waste a lot of time chasing it, because all the evidence suggest that happiness comes from within yourself. The same lies true with all other aspects of your life physical, mental, social and emotional life. Stress Resiliency Building your resiliency to stress is a way of dealing with stressful situations. Resiliency is the ability to rebound after a stressful event. Not how fast they recover, but the ability to recover. Many people find that small hassles that occur on a daily basis no longer cause them a great deal of stress, but if they think about the first time that something in particular happened, then they will probably remember the stress response that occurred. Resilient individuals find that they quickly become unaffected by new experiences and that when they are put in a stressful situation they are able to bounce back and relax. Everybody has their own level of resilience. It has been reported that people with large families and a close network of friends are more resilient than people who prefer to spend time by themselves and are socially withdrawn. Highly resilient people are said to have a set of attributes that are not shown by less resilient individuals. Some of these attributes are listed below:

  • Self-Aware - They are able to identify issues that they have and how they feel about the said issues. In addition they find it easy to talk about any issues that are bothering them with people close to them.
  • Realistic - They are able to look at themselves and their life from a realistic rather than from an idealistic point of view. They can identify with how they think and feel so that they become emotionally detached from things that cause them concern.
  • Positive - Rather than giving good advice to others they give good advice to themselves and live by it so that others can learn from them in a positive way. They also don’t feel the need to defend their actions when questioned by someone else because they live their life the way that they feel is right.
  • Optimistic - They have a natural optimistic outlook about life and participate in it as much as they can because they know that their resilience will enable them to get straight back up if knocked down. They look for the positive aspects of life and enjoy them to the full but they also understand that life has negative aspects that will work to bring you down. Even so, optimism allows these people to continuously look for the best possible outcome in every situation and this helps to pull resilient individuals through even the toughest of times. This positive attitude reduces stress and so increases resilience even further.
  • Courageous - A stressful situation makes a lot of people want to run for cover. For example if you were being bullied at school or even at work you might decide that it would be better if you don’t put yourself in the stressful position anymore. However highly resilient people think that it is a necessary part of life and that in order to learn from the experience they must face it head on whether they want to or not.
  • Accepting - They understand that grief is to be recognized and accepted as an inevitable part of life. Many resilient people find that religion or faith in something else helps them to stand up to the trials of life


The term stress was first employed in a biological context by the endocrinologist Hans Selye in the 1930s. He later broadened and popularized the concept to include inappropriate physiological response to any demand. The term stress, refers to a condition as a result of stimulus, caused by actions of stressor’s.

- Stress is a state of mental or emotions strain resulting from very demanding situations.
external image stress.jpg


- Distress: otherwise known as negative stress, is a stress disorder that is caused by adverse events and often influences a persons ability to cope. Some triggering incidences can be the death of a loved one, hard times at work (layed off, not enough help, etc.), chronic illnesses, or strained relationships.
- Eustress: known as the positive or curative stress, is what makes us feel content with our self and our accomplishments. It allows us to feel happy and excited about life, even if only for short intervals of time.
- Hyperstress: is when a person is pushed harder than they can handle, resulting in the individual feeling overloaded or overworked. When someone is hyperstressed even small occurences, such as a dog barking or a dish being dropped can cause them to radiate a strong emotionally reaction. People who are most likely to suffer from hyperstress are mothers who are trying to juggle work and family and people who are under constant financial strains and working or living in a fast paced environment.
- Hypostress: is the direct opposite of hyperstress. It inhabits people who are constantly bored and don't feel as if they have a purpose in life. For example a factory worker may experience this because their job consists of the same routine every day, and is often unchallenging. The effect of hypostress is feelings of restlessness and lack of inspiration.

How Stress Affects The Body

Mobilizing Energy - Your body releases adrenaline, your heart beats faster and you start to breathe more quickly. Both good and bad events can trigger this reaction.
Consuming Energy Stores - This is when your body begins to release stored sugars and fats that make you feel driven, pressured and tired. You may drink more coffee, smoke more and drink more alcohol. You may also experience anxiety, negative thinking or memory loss, catch a cold or get the flu more often than normal.
Draining Energy Stores - If you do not resolve your stress problem, your body's need for energy will become greater than its ability to provide it. At this stage, you may experience insomnia, errors in judgement and personality changes. You may also develop a serious illness such as heart disease or be at risk of mental illness.

Sources of Stress For Teenagers Sources of Stress for Adults
some of the common stressors are,external image stressed.jpg
  • Moving to a new home and school
  • Dating
  • Tests and homework
  • Too-high expectations
  • Sports and other extracurricular activities
  • Employment
  • Too much to do
  • Too fast or too slow physical development
  • Family problems including abuse and alcohol
  • Owning a car
  • Relationships with friends
  • Not achieving something that you really wanted
  • Money problems
  • Family and Friends
  • Work
  • Life changes
  • Health issues
Gender Responses to Stress
One of the most basic behavioral differences between men and women is how they respond to stress. UCLA researchers found that men often react to stress with a "fight-or-flight" response, but women are more likely to manage their stress with a "tend-and-befriend" response.

Fight-or-flight vs. Befriending

Fight-or-flight means that, when confronted by stress, individuals either react with aggressive behavior – such as verbal conflict and more drastic actions – or withdraw or flee from the stressful situation. "Befriending" methods include talking on the phone with relatives or friends, to such simple social contacts as asking for directions when lost. The "tending" pattern is especially apparent in the differences between fathers' and mothers' behaviors with their children after a stressful workday.

-When the typical father in the study came home after a stressful day at work, heresponded to stress by wanting to be left alone, enjoying peace and quiet away
from the stress of the office;

Top 10 Ways of Dealing with Mental Illness.
The word Stress is used to describe both external events that make demand on us and the internal responses they trigger. In fact, stress is the body's general response to any demand made on it, regardless of whether that demand is pleasant or unpleasant, or whether it is emotional or physical. Relaxation helps reduce stress by distracting your mind from stress provoking thoughts. Besides various relaxation techniques help to counter effects of 'fight or flight' reaction. Check out these ten simple and effective ways of handling stress

1. Talk about it:

- Where you feel you can, discuss your problems with your partner or close friend in order to see the situation more objectively.

2. Do things you enjoy:
- Pamper your self, and make sure you do something you really enjoy at least once a day.
3. Laugh:
- Laughter is a fabulous healer and encourages social bonding. The act of laughing also increases the oxygen supply to the lungs, stimulates the production of endorphins and can produce a feeling of euphoria. Occasionally it may also open the gates to tears-another positive release.
4. Exercise:- Burn off the energy that stress generates before it burns you up. A study at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, shows that 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise that raises your heart rate to about 120 beats per minute at least three times a week can lower depression and anxiety within 12 weeks. Performing some stretching exercises or regular exercise pattern can help you combat stress. Check out stretching exercises at WF Flexibility exercises for relieving stress

5. Dont always be a pushover:
- Make space for yourself and get some respect. State your options clearly and calmly. Don't wait to be asked, and then feel angry and overlooked if you're not. Make sure to put yourself first sometimes.
6. Be creative:
- Women often feel stressed, frustrated and depressed when family or business management pushes creativity out of the picture. Taking up a stimulating new interest helps you to keep an open and progressive mind.
7. Be yourself:
- Accept your personality, don't try to alter it. Instead, learn to manage your strengths and weaknesses. Likewise, stop chastising yourself for past mistakes. Learn from them - then let them go.

8. Dont procrastinate:
- By procrastinating you are putting things off and they end up building up, then a bunch of little things turns into a big thing that causes stress.

9. Be positive:
- Approval-seeking and self-doubt both erode self-esteem. Tell yourself you can do things not merely to stay popular but because you genuinely enjoy them. Remember the glass is half full.

10. Find support:
- When you are stressed be around family and people that care about you. it will make things easier on you because there are strength in numbers.

11. Meditate:
-Daily meditation alters the brains pathways, and makes you more resilient to stress.

12. Breathe Deeply :
-Deep breathing slows the heart rates and can lower the heart rate when stress is present.

13. Crank the music:
- Studies have shown that listening to music can lower blood pressure, your heart rate, and anxiety levels.

14. Be Grateful:
-When you realize all the things that a good in your life it will cancel out all the negative thoughts.

15. Pets:
Taking care of a pet can help reduce the negative thoughts. Studies show that pets are a positive influences in peoples lives.

16. Reading:
- It is a an escape from reality, and can help reduce stress from everyday life.

Unhealthy ways of coping with stress

These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities
  • Using pills or drugs to relax
  • Sleeping too much
  • Procrastinating
  • Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems
  • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

10 Health Problems Related to Stress

  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity
  • Alzheimers Disease
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Headaches
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Accelerated Aging
  • Premature Death
  • Gastrointestinal Problems

Physical and Mental Signs of Short-term Stress

Often occurring in quick 'bursts' in reaction to something in your environment, short-term stress can affect your body in many ways. Some examples include:
  • Making your heartbeat and breath faster
  • Making you sweat more
  • Leaving you with cold hands, feet, or skin
  • Making you feel sick to your stomach or giving you 'butterflies'
  • Tightening your muscles or making you feel tense
  • Leaving your mouth dry
  • Making you have to go to the bathroom frequently
  • Increasing muscle spasms, headaches, fatigue, and shortness of breath:
  • Interfering with your judgment and causing you to make bad decisions
  • Making you see difficult situations as threatening
  • Reducing your enjoyment and making you feel bad
  • Making it difficult for you to concentrate or to deal with distraction
  • Leaving you anxious, frustrated or madexternal image reducing-stress-2.jpg
  • Making you feel rejected, unable to laugh, afraid of free time, unable to work, and not willing to discuss your problems with others
  • Acne breakouts

Physical and Mental Signs of Long-term Stress

Long-term stress or stress that is occurring over long periods of time can have an even greater effect on your body and mind. Long-term stress can affect your body by:
  • Changing your appetite (making you eat either less or more)
  • Changing your sleep habits (either causing you to sleep too much or not letting you sleep enough)
  • Encouraging 'nervous' behavior such as twitching, fiddling, talking too much, nail biting, teeth grinding, pacing, and other repetitive habits
  • Causing you to catch colds or the flu more often and causing other illnesses such as asthma, headaches, stomach problems, skin problems, and other aches and pains
  • Affecting your sex life and performance
  • Making you feel constantly tired and worn out
Long-term stress can also have serious effects on your mental health and behavior. If you are under stress for long periods of time, you may find that you have difficulty thinking clearly, dealing with problems, or even handling day-to-day situations as simple as shaving, picking up clothes or arriving somewhere on time. Some mental signs of long-term stress include:
  • Worrying and feeling anxious (which can sometimes lead to anxiety disorder and panic attacks)
  • Feeling out of control, overwhelmed, confused, and/or unable to make decisions
  • Experiencing mood changes such as depression, frustration, anger, helplessness, irritability, defensiveness, irrationality, overreaction, or impatience and restlessness
  • Increasing dependence on food, cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs
  • Neglecting important things in life such as work, school, and even personal appearance
  • Developing irrational fears of things such as physical illnesses, natural disasters like thunderstorms and earthquakes, and even being terrified of ordinary situations like heights heights or small spaces
  • Wrinkles may ocur from constant stress
  • Hair loss or discoloration (grey)

6 Myths About Stress

Myth 1: Stress is the same for everybody
Stress is not the same for everybody, nor does everyone experience stress in the same way. Stress is different for each and every one of us. What is stressful for one person may or may not be stressful for another; each of us responds to stress in an entirely different way.
Myth 2: Stress is always bad for you
According to this view, zero stress makes us happy and healthy. But this is wrong — stress is to the human condition what tension is to the violin string: too little and the music is dull and raspy; too much and the music is shrill or the string snaps.
Myth 3: Stress is everywhere, so you can’t do anything about it
So is the possibility of getting into an automobile accident everytime we get into our cars, but we don’t allow that to stop us from driving.
You can plan your life so that stress does not overwhelm you. Effective planning involves setting priorities and working on simple problems first, solving them, and then going on to more complex difficulties
Myth 4: The most popular techniques for reducing stress are the best ones
No universally effective stress reduction techniques exist! We are all different — our lives are different, our situations are different, and our reactions are different. A comprehensive stress management program tailored to the individual works best. But self -help books that can teach you many of the successful stress management techniques can also be of great help, as long as you stick to the program and practice the techniques daily
Myth 5: No symptoms, no stress.
An absence of symptoms does not mean the absence of stress.Many of us experience symptoms of stress in a very physical way, even though stress is a psychological effect. Feeling anxious, shortness of breath, or simply feeling run down all the time can all be physical signs of stress. Feeling overwhelmed, disorganized and having difficulty concentrating are common mental signs of stress
Myth 6: Only major symptoms of stress require attention
This myth assumes that the “minor” symptoms, such as headaches or stomach acid, may be safely ignored. Minor symptoms of stress are the early warnings that your life is getting out of hand and that you need to do a better job of managing stress.
If you wait until you start feeling the “major” symptoms of stress (such as a heart attack), it may be too late. Those early warning signs are best listened to earlier rather than later

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

- You can develop this after living through or seeing a traumatic event that ivolved threat of injury or death. PTSD (Post Tramatic Stress Disorder) makes you feel stressed and afraid after the danger is over. It affects your life and the people around you.
It can cause problems like:
  • Flashbacks, or feeling like the event is happening again
  • Trouble sleeping or nightmaresexternal image 12-steps_PTSD_chart.jpg
  • Feeling alone
  • Angry outbursts
  • Feeling worried, guilty or sad
  • Depression
  • Halucinations

- Some of the events that can cause PTSD are;
  • War
  • Hurricane
  • Rape
  • Physical abuse
  • Car accident
  • Natural disaster
  • Terrorism attack


The teen years are looked upon by many adults as "carefree and happy years," as the "best years of their life." Every year, suicidal rates keep increasing all over the world. In Canada, suicide is the second leading cause of death (after accidents) for young people under twenty-five years of age with alittle more than 600 a year.

Many people attribute the growing suicide rate to three factors.• drugs and alcohol• feelings of loneliness and alienation• increased stress

People who attempt suicide because of stress continually feel that they cannot cope with life situations. They frequently send out warning signs prior to a suicide attempt.

They may do some of the following.
• talk of suicide or about suicide
• talk about revenge or getting even; especially with parents
• give away cherished possessions

• ask a lot of questions about death or life after death

Some communities have set up telephone "hot lines", such as Kids Help Phone, to help people who are emotionally troubled or suicidal.
We have learned that a healthy lifestyle promotes a certain amount of stress. A mentally healthy person does not sail smoothly through life without experiencing anger, anxiety, fear or other troublesome emotions. A mentally healthy person can and does have these emotions. The important thing is they have learned to control their emotions in ways that are constructive. The challenge to you is to apply what you have learned about good mental health and stress management to your own life. Try to improve your mental health - the resulting feelings of love, satisfaction, joy, laughter, freedom from worry, and peace of mind are well worth the effort.

"Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it"

Hans Selye