Stress is how your body, thoughts, and feelings respond to life. When a problem comes along, your body might respond like there is a threat or danger. The problem can be big or small, but it causes stress.

When you are stressed, your body releases chemicals that make you more alert, tense, and ready for action. Here are some stress symptoms:

  • Heart beats faster, sending more blood to muscles and brain
  • Blood pressure goes up
  • Breathing gets faster
  • Digestion slows down
  • Sweat more
  • Rush of energy
  • Pupils get bigger, letting more light into your eyes

These changes make sure your body is ready for action. This is helpful in a dangerous situation, such as meeting a bear on the land.

When the cause of the stress (ex. the bear) goes away, your brain usually stops making the stress chemicals.  Sometimes your brain keeps releasing stress chemicals and you keep feeling stressed. Other times, a new problem comes along before your body has a chance to rest. If that happens, you do not get a break from the stress.

Without a break, you may be more irritable, lose your temper, and not be able to put up with even small problems. You may feel jumpy or exhausted all the time, and find it hard to concentrate. Other signs of stress can include:

  • Headache, stiff neck, or backache
  • sweaty palms 
  • upset stomach

To cope with or get rid of stress, some people smoke, drink alcohol, overeat, use drugs, or just shut down. Some people take it out on others and become violent or abusive. These negative behaviours can cause more stress and harm to your body and mind.

Here are some things to try to reduce stress in your life.

  • Talk about your stress with someone you trust. Talking about a problem is a good way to reduce tension and stress.
  • Cry. Crying can relieve stress and is an important part of emotional healing. 
  • Take care of your body and mind. Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and do the things you enjoy. 
  • Learn and use relaxation skills. Deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises are a good way to reduce tension. Once you learn them, do them for three to five minutes at a time. 
  • Reach out. If you think you need support with your stress, consider some of the resources available at Nunavummiut. Visit the Help and Support page for more information.