Stress Management

Stress, in certain amounts, is a normal aspect of life, and at times can even be a helpful motivating force. Stress and anxiety alert us when we’re in danger, tells us when we truly care about something, and helps us take steps to protect ourselves and others.

When we’re battling depression, our ability to adaptively manage stress can deteriorate, and stress from one area of our life can spill over into others, disrupting our sleep, appetite, relationships, energy levels, and much more.

According to the HeadsUpGuys Stress Test, which has been completed by more than 100,000 men, common sources of stress guys face include:

  • Lack of meaning (over 60% of men completing the Stress Test report this)
  • Loneliness (over 50% report this)
  • Difficulties in family, social, or romantic relationships
  • Financial difficulties
  • Illness or injuries
  • Past traumatic events
  • Major life events or transitions

Exciting and joyful events can also be significant sources of stress, especially if they are challenging (like starting a new job, moving to a new place, or having a child).

Man wearing over-ear headphones, looking down

Identify and Prioritize Your Stressors

One of the first steps in addressing any stressor is recognizing that it is an issue. Our Stress Test can help identify which stressors are affecting us the most and provide us with a list of stressors ordered by how unmanageable they are.

Using this list, we can prioritize which stressors to work on first, before moving on to address others.

Once we identify a stressor, try not to put it aside or leave it to deal with later. This is often how stress builds up and really starts to wear us down.

Man in sweater at beach


This page will provide you with some basic tips for managing stressful situations. It’s also a place where you can find all of our articles related to the most common stressors guys face.

For a lot of men, not having the right stress management practices in place can lead to other difficulties. Poor coping strategies often turn into even bigger headaches, like trouble with drugs, alcohol, gambling, porn, or internet addictions. We’ve put together some of the best resources we could find to help with these issues.

Practical Tips
Common Stressors for Men
Off-Track Coping Strategies
Practical Tips

It’s hard to cope with stressful situations when you’re depressed.  But there are a few things that you can do so that stress doesn’t knock you down.  Some of the tips below might require a bit of practice before you get the hang of it, but stick with it.

Slow down and step back

Stress can make things feel more imminent and daunting than they might actually be. Give yourself some time to gather your thoughts, reflect on the situation, and realistically assess what’s going on and what needs to be done. Consider the bigger picture – ask yourself two questions: ‘How important is this?’ and ‘Will it matter in the long run?’  Chances are it’s probably not worth getting worked up over.

Breathe deep and relax

Stress can make your body and mind feel like they’re in over-drive. The simplest and easiest way to keep an even keel is to slow your breathing and focus on relaxing your muscles.  Breathe deeply into your chest and stomach for 4 seconds, hold for 2-4 seconds, then breathe out for 4 seconds. This will help to lower your heart rate and give you a moment to collect your thoughts.

Walk away

If you feel like you’re getting too angry in a stressful situation that involves another person, end the conversation, take some space, and don’t resume talking until you’re calm.

Concentrate your attention elsewhere

Stress can consume your thoughts. It can be helpful to kick it out of your mind and replace it with something more calming and positive. Go for a walk, read a book, do a puzzle, meet up for coffee with a friend – the idea is to give your mind something to concentrate on besides what is stressing you out.

Talk it out

One of the most important things to do in a stressful situation that involves another person is to communicate effectively.  This involves clearly expressing what you think, how you feel and what you want, without demanding that you must have things your way. The basic message is ‘We both matter – let’s try to work this out’.

Even with stressful issues that don’t involve another person, talking with a trusted friend, colleague, or therapist about what you’re confronted with will be immensely helpful. In fact, it’s essential – we should never feel like we have to figure things out on our own, as that leaves us feeling isolated, lonely, and frustrated.

Burn off energy

When your body sends out a stress response it thinks you have something you need to physically respond to. But we don’t often have to run away from charging animals or anything like that. Still, your body needs to respond to burn off this extra energy. Physical activity can be a great way to relieve stress. Go for a walk, take a jog, or hit the gym, whatever you feel up to.

Common Stressors for Men
Off-Track Coping Strategies

Sometimes we try to cope with stress by distracting ourselves. Drinking, drugs, gambling, or losing ourselves in the internet are common ways that guys can distract themselves from stress. Unfortunately, these usually turn out to become bigger problems than the stress they’re trying to hide from.

If you’ve noticed that you’re trying to cope with stress by doing some of these things, click on the links below for some good advice to get yourself back on a more positive track.

Proactive Stress Management

Keeping stress in check over the long run is really important for your mind and body.  Lots of different things can help with this – physical activity, good sleep, proper diet, and having fun can help keep your stress level down.  Below are some more specific stress management tips that are good to have in your arsenal.

Relaxing is a skill and like anything else, it requires practice. Practice the tips on this page, even when you’re feeling alright, to get the most out of them.

Use your stress signals to avoid stress

Ever notice your muscles being really tense or stomach feeling off when you’re stressed? These are your body’s stress signals.[1] As you start to get better at recognizing stress you can better identify which situations to avoid. If a relationship or situation that’s causing you stress can’t be changed, then stay away from it. That might mean limiting your time with the person or situation, or separating yourself from them altogether.

Know your limits

We can spread ourselves too thin by taking on more than we can manage.  Don’t over-extend yourself – know your limits of what you can and can’t do.

Find someone to talk to

Talking to a friend or family member, or a therapist, can really help put things in perspective.  Also, simply describing what’s stressing you out can be very helpful. If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable talking to, try writing things down.

Get active

Physical activity can be a great outlet for stress, whether it’s jogging, swimming, or going for a walk. Some activities like yoga can also help you practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation.

Organize your stress

Sometimes it can be helpful to see all the things you’re stressing out about in one place.  Set time aside to make a to-do list of the things that are causing you stress. From here you can pare down the list to what’s most essential and create a plan around tackling it.

Focus on what you can control

A lot of things in life are beyond our control, such as the behaviour of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on what you can control, such as the way you choose to react to problems.

Putting It Into Practice

Forming new habits can be tough, so we’ve gathered helpful tips and strategies for creating daily habits and routines to fight depression.


  1. Casarella, Jennifer. (2019, August 1). Stress symptoms. WebMD.

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