Skip to main content

Stress

Stress is the response of your body and mind to demands placed on you. When you feel threatened, your brain releases hormones that prepare your body to take action—you sweat, your breathing quickens, your heart rate goes up, and your muscles tense. This stress response is what allowed our human ancestors to either run or fight when face-to-face with a threat. Of course, these days most of the threats we face aren’t ones we can deal with in this way.

Most people can minimize the effects of stress with self-care techniques like exercise, meditation, getting a good night’s sleep, and eating well.

 

What is normal?

Stress itself is not a mental illness. Stress is a normal reaction to the demands of life. A small amount of stress can be good, since it motivates you to perform well. But multiple stressful challenges every day can make it tough to cope. If stress keeps piling up, and starts to make you feel worse instead of motivating you, it can harm your mental and physical health.

 

What are common signs and symptoms?

Learning to identify the following signs may help you better manage your stress.

Changes in your body:

  • Muscles feel tense
  • Breathing and heart rate feel quicker
  • Headaches or stomach aches
  • Changes in my sleep or appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling tired

 

Changes in your actions:

  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs to help cope
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Drinking more coffee
  • Losing patience with people
  • Avoiding situations that are stressful
  • Fidgeting

 

Changes in your emotions:

  • Feeling worried and confused
  • Feeling angry and irritable
  • Feeling like you can’t cope

 

Changes in your thinking:

  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • Thoughts race
  • Losing self-confidence
  • Negative attitude toward yourself and your life

 

Should I seek help?

Because the causes and effects of stress are different for everyone, we all need to find our own way to cope. Many people can minimize the effect of stress in their life with self-care techniques. Talk about your stress with friends or family; share your workload if you can; don’t procrastinate; get more exercise; try meditation; make sure you get a good night’s sleep; and be sure to eat well.

If you still find you struggle to deal with stress, talk to your doctor about other strategies to manage it.

Tools

PSPNET

PSPNET
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

As part of the Government of Canada’s National Action Plan on Posttraumatic Stress Injuries, PSPNET is offering and evaluating Internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy, also known as ICBT, specifically tailored for current and former Public...

Visit PSPNET

More Information:

Adults / Seniors

Togetherall

Togetherall
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Togetherall is a clinically moderated, online peer-to-peer mental health community that empowers individuals to anonymously seek and provide support 24/7.

Togetherall provides millions of people access to a safe and supportive online community...

Visit Togetherall

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth

Wellness Together Canada

Wellness Together Canada
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Wellness Together Canada is a mental health and substance use website to support people across Canada and Canadians living abroad in both official languages. They provide the following resources for you at no cost:

  • Immediate text support
  • Info...
Visit Wellness Together Canada

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth

Well Central & Well-being Course

Canadian Mental Health Association
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Well Central is an accessible and completely free virtual Recovery College offering interactive courses that empower individuals to take control of their mental health and well-being. The Well-being Course, the first course to be offered on the Well...

Visit Well Central & Well-being Course

More Information:

Adults / Youth

HealthyMinds@Work

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Discover tools to help support your mental health efforts in creating a space where workers feel safe, respected, and valued.

Visit HealthyMinds@Work

More Information:

Adults

Mental Health 101

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Knowledge is power. This series of free online tutorials is a starting point for learning about mental health.​ You can come away with a greater understanding of the mental health concern you are interested in knowing more about. The tutorials can...

Visit Mental Health 101

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth

Psychological First Aid pocket guide

Red Cross
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

In the Psychological First Aid – Self-Care course, learn the effects of stress, with an emphasis on building and using a personal self-care plan. Learn strategies to prevent, recognize, and cope with stress.

This course is for:  Anyone interested...

Visit Psychological First Aid pocket guide

More Information:

Adults / Seniors

Mindshift CBT

Anxiety Canada
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Is anxiety getting in the way of your life? MindShift™ CBT uses scientifically proven strategies based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you learn to relax and be mindful, develop more effective ways of thinking, and use active steps to...

Visit Mindshift CBT

More Information:

Adults / Youth

Antidepressant Skills at Work

Psychology Health and Safety
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

A self-care guide that teaches employees skills for managing depression and low mood. It utilizes established cognitive-behavioural techniques with a specific focus on workplace issues.

Visit Antidepressant Skills at Work

More Information:

Adults

Walk Along

University of British Columbia
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

WalkAlong isn't your typical mental health website, it is a community where young Canadians can explore their mental health amongst their peers. This portal is a Canadian-based mental health resource that also provides information and links to...

Visit Walk Along

More Information:

Youth

Mood Meter

Government of Newfoundland
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

We can all take actions to improve our ‘mood’ or mental wellness. The Mood Meter is a creative way for you to think about how you are feeling and what actions you can take to improve your mental wellness.

Visit Mood Meter

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth

MindWell U

MindWell U - Mindfulness-In-Action
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

When you join you’ll learn how ‘mindfulness-in-action’ is the fastest way to decrease stress, increase resilience, improve your mental health, and make you more capable to handle all of life’s challenges.

Join now to see positive changes in all...

Visit MindWell U

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth

Therapy Assistance Online (TAO)

Therapy Assistance Online
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Online library of engaging, interactive programs to learn life skills and to help you bounce back from disappointments or stumbling blocks in life. As you watch videos and engage with our interactive components, you'll gain the knowledge, self...

Visit Therapy Assistance Online (TAO)

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth

Dealing With Depression

Dealing With Depression
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Teaches a set of skills (realistic thinking, how to solve problems, setting goals you can achieve) that you can apply to your own life to overcome depression.

Visit Dealing With Depression

More Information:

Adults / Youth

33 Program(s)

Sipekne’katik First Nation

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Sipekne’katik Health Centre has many programs available for its community to benefit from, including:

  • Adult primary health care services
  • Prenatal classes and services
  • Parent programming
  • Maternal child health services
  • Public health...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
First Nations, Indigenous

Pictou Landing Health Centre

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Provides health services to Pictou Landing First Nation community members, including mental health counselling.

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
First Nations, Indigenous

Millbrook Health Centre

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Millbrook Health Centre provides health services to Millbrook Band members, First Nations people who reside at Millbrook First nation, and community members.

Services provided include:

  • Primary health care
  • Nursing services
  • Dental...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
First Nations, Indigenous

Paqtnkek Health Centre

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Dedicated and caring staff at the Paqtnkek Health Centre support a variety of community health promotion, education and prevention programs from Monday through Friday.

The centre provides primary health care services for adults and children, such...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
First Nations, Indigenous

We'koqma'q Health and Wellness Department

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The department provides an array of services including:

  • Home and community care
  • Dietician services
  • Clinical therapists
  • Addictions services
  • Public health
  • Primary care
  • Palliative care
  • Lab services

The department is also...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
First Nations, Indigenous

Membertou Health and Wellness Home

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Membertou Wellness Home delivers programs in heart disease/hypertension, smoking cessation, healthy weight, crisis prevention/intervention, mental health, pre-natal, diabetes foot care, addictions services, dental therapy, chronic disease, home...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
First Nations, Indigenous

Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq - Mental Wellness Team

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Mental Wellness Team provides case management and service navigation for First Nations persons of all ages seeking mental wellness services.

We work in collaboration with relevant community and provincial...

More Information:

Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience. Call 1-866-925-4419
There are no fees associated with use and this service is...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
First Nations, Indigenous

IWK Mental Health and Addictions Program

IWK
This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The IWK Mental Health and  Addictions Program provides specialized care throughout the province for children and youth up until their 19th birthday within a patient and family...

More Information:

Children / Youth

Canadian Mental Health Association - Colchester East Hants Branch

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Colchester East Hants Branch provides public education, advocacy, and a resource center to support the resiliency and recovery of...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Halifax-Dartmouth Branch

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Halifax-Dartmouth Branch works at the community level and facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Nova Scotia Division

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Canadian Mental Health Associations in Nova Scotia are the oldest community-based mental health and addictions charitable organizations in the province, founded in 1908. The...

More Information:

/
Adults / Seniors

Healthy Minds Cooperative

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Healthy Minds Cooperative is an innovative mental health cooperative that provides a variety of peer-based services to people with lived experience of mental health issues and...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors

Hope for Wellness HelpLine

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Hope for Wellness HelpLine offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. Experienced and culturally competent...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Eskasoni Mental Health

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Eskasoni Mental Health Services (EMHS) provides a wide range of services to the Mi’kmaq people of Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Tui'kn Residential School Survivor...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Caregivers Nova Scotia

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
Caregiver, Family

Kids Help Phone

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7, national support service. We offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young...

More Information:

Children / Youth

211

211
This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.

More Information:

Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Veterans Affairs Canada Assistance Service

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Phoenix Centre for Youth

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Phoenix Centre for Youth is a walk-in centre that helps youth ages 12-24 years who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in their day-to-day lives. Services offered are...

More Information:

Adults / Youth

Health Psychology

Health Psychology offers psychological interventions for those with chronic and acute health conditions. The main focus is on the patient's mental and emotional reaction to an illness or their recovery from an illness.

More Information:

Adults

DaRT Program

The Dynamic (attachment-focused) Relational Therapy Program (DaRT) is a part-time six week intensive group psychotherapy program. It is a treatment program that is designed to support adults who have experienced complex emotional trauma resulting in...

More Information:

Adults

First Responders Assist

This service will offer short-term counselling and supportive services, including follow up if needed, for first responders and their families impacted by the tragedies of...

More Information:

Adults
First Responders

Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit (ANSU) is an acute care unit that provides services for persons with intellectual disability and acute mental illness that...

More Information:

Adults

Community Outreach Assessment Support and Treatment Team (COAST) - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The community outreach assessment support and treatment team provides services for persons with both intellectual disability and also mental illness. These services include:

...

More Information:

Adults

School Mental Health (SchoolsPlus)

The school mental health clinicians provide individual and group therapy, mental health and addictions education for school staff and consultation services. Clinicians are on...

More Information:

Children / Youth

Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic

The Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury Clinic (NSOSIC) belongs to a national network of OSI Clinics funded by Veterans Affairs Canada. The clinic provides mental health...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line

The Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line provides crisis intervention for children, youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis or mental distress.

...

More Information:

Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

First Nations Services

Mental Health clinicians work as part of the first nations health care team in several first nations communities. The Mental Health Clinician provides assessment, diagnosis...

More Information:

Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Adult Community Mental Health and Addictions Services

Community Mental Health and Addictions includes a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide services on an outpatient basis. The team provides assessment...

More Information:

Adults / Seniors

Child and Adolescent Services

Child and Adolescent Services/Child Youth and Family/Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinical Services provide mental health and addiction services to children and youth...

More Information:

Children / Youth

Adolescent Outreach Services

Adolescent Outreach Services (AOS) is an expansion of the CaperBase model, which originated in Cape Breton. AOS focuses on providing:

  • Brief and Early Intervention
  • Screening
  • Outreach
  • Community Partnerships

The AOS model is set up for...

More Information:

Children / Youth

811 LogoIKW Logo211 Logo