Keys to Mental Health 1: Stress


Feeling stressed out is a common and normal experience. We all feel stress, and this feeling extends beyond just emotions. Stress can come in many different forms:

  • Physical stressors (e.g. injury, illness, fatigue, hunger, lack of shelter)
  • Social stressors (e.g. arguments, rejection, embarrassment)
  • Intellectual stressors (e.g. mental fatigue, lack of understanding)
  • Emotional stressors (e.g. death of a close friend or family member)
  • Spiritual Stressors (e.g. guilt, moral conflicts, lack of sense of purpose)
Although we almost always think of stress as a negative factor in our lives, in some cases it can actually be a good thing. Some short-term stress (like before an exam or a presentation) may help motivate you to perform at your best, and contribute to your development as a person. We are “hard-wired” to deal with everyday stress and dealing with stress successfully enhances our ability to handle larger stresses in the future. While some stressors can be positive, and avoiding stress altogether is practically impossible, excessive and long term stress can take a toll on mental health and it is therefore very important to learn to identify and deal with stress. This activity will help you explore the role that stress plays in your life, as well as practice stress management techniques.


1. Increase your understanding of stress by:

2. Once you have learned the negative effect that stress can have on your mind and body, as well as that stress in moderation and the right circumstances can be helpful for your mental health and performance, make two lists:
  • 3 positive stressors in your life (e.g. moderate stress before a big game or competition that may enhance your performance)
  • 3 negative stressors in your life (e.g. unrealistic expectations about looks, friends, school, or sports), and 3 ways that you deal with them.

3. Share your stress management strategies and - if you wish - your positive and negative stressors through the thread for this activity in Class Discussions. Be sure to select the appropriate assignment from the pulldown menu at the bottom of your submission.

4. Comment on at least one of your classmate's stress management strategies shared in the group discussion.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are concerned that the amount of stress you're feeling is unmanageable or excessive, check out the activity on anxiety disorders and think about whether these symptoms may apply to you.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand that not all stress is negative
  • Explore the ways that stress effects mental health
  • Be able to recognize signs of stress
  • Identify effective ways of dealing with stress

Continue to Keys to Mental Health 2: Sleep »

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