Man standing on forest canopy walk

“Without the proper strategies in place, stress can lead to burnout, a risk factor for depression.”

Unmitigated stress can lead a guy to feeling burned out, which in itself is an important precipitating factor for depression.

Common signs of feeling burned out include:

  • Feeling exhausted
  • Lacking motivation
  • Struggling to keep up with life
  • Anger and irritability

If you’re affected by some of these symptoms, it’s important to use our Self Check to see if depression may be affecting you.

In order to prevent burnout, and thus reduce your risk for depression, it’s important to get a handle on stress.

The tips below can help you to get the upper hand on stress, helping you feel more in control of your life.

Identify and prioritize the stressors in your life

The first step in tackling any problem is being able to name it.

Our Stress Test includes many common stressors that affect guys, which can help you identify issues that might be causing undue strain in your life.  Being able to identify the stressors in your life can then help you come up with a plan of what to address.

Make time to relax and/or have fun

The point here is to give your mind a break from constantly worrying. It doesn’t have to be complicated or anything new. For some guys this can mean playing music, watching sports or a favourite comedy, or reading. Everyone is different, so find something you enjoy.

More specific techniques include deep breathing, muscle relaxation, mindfulness, and meditation. These all have the same goal and are simply different strategies to focus your attention on the present moment and away from stressful thoughts. Find more info on our Stress Management page. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with tasks, ask for help

Sometimes we spread ourselves too thin, a handful of stressful things all come up at once, or something unexpected and particularly hard to deal with happens. Whether you’re falling behind at work or school, or getting chores and groceries done, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to reach out and ask for a hand.

Burying yourself in your work or doubling down to try and get things done may work in the short term, but it’s not a winning strategy.

Guys often hesitate to ask others for help because we want to look like we can handle things on our own, but often our friends would be more than happy to help, if we only asked.

Try to be specific about what you ask for help with, for example, you can say:

  • “I’m feeling bogged down these days at work, could you give me a hand getting this presentation ready for Monday?”
  • “I could really use some help getting some new tires on my car. Would you be able to give me hand some evening this week or on the weekend?”

Rather than developing a habit of overextending yourself, instead get into the habit of sensing when you are feeling overwhelmed and taking a step back to address what’s going on in your life, before things get worse.

Reach out and talk to a friend about stress

Some guys hide their stress so well that the people around them have no idea how they are really feeling – and it’s a shame because talking to a friend or family member can really help put things in perspective. Just getting thoughts out of your head and describing what’s stressing you can be helpful. 

Sometimes things can seem so daunting that we don’t know where to start to get things back on track – getting an outside perspective and advice from someone you trust and respect can really help. 

If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable talking to, try writing things down or look into connecting with a therapist to see a professional and get the extra support you deserve.

Burn off some energy

When your body sends out a stress response, it thinks you have something you need to physically respond to. But these days 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 outlet for stress, whether it’s jogging, swimming, or going for a 15 minute walk. Keep it simple and try to get a bit of physical activity every day. Developing a routine of physical activity can be tremendously helpful.

Stay socially engaged

Staying socially engaged may sound tough when you’re feeling stressed, but the more you talk to people, the more connected you’ll feel, and the less overwhelming things will seem. It’s really important to resist the urge to withdraw or isolate yourself from others.

If you don’t have a lot of energy, keep your outings short. It’s almost always better to show up and hang out with friends for a bit than to avoid or cancel plans altogether. 

See our page on social life to get more tips. 

Combine tips to maximize effects and save time

Many of the activities and suggestions above can be combined to save time and make it more realistic to be able to fit into your schedule.

For example:

  • Going for a walk with a friend after grabbing coffee can be a great opportunity to talk about some of the things that are stressing you, while getting some physical activity in.
  • Yoga or simply focusing on your breath and movements at the gym can also help you practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation while burning off some energy.

Once you find a couple things that help you relax, stick with them and work them into your regular routine.

Give yourself permission to make your health a priority

A lot of guys like to put others before themselves – friends, family – we all have people we love. But in order to better help others, sometimes you have to help yourself first. It may feel a bit selfish, but give yourself permission to make your health your top priority.

For more tips on managing stress in the moment and long term, see our comprehensive page on Stress Management.