Five tips for dealing with stress and anxiety

A McMaster psychiatrist’s best advice


This week’s Maclean’s cover story looked in-depth at the mental health crisis on Canadian campuses.

Earlier this year, the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities solicited advice on dealing with stress before it becomes a problem.

Dr. Michael Van Ameringen, a professor in the department of psychiatry at McMaster University and former co-director of the anxiety disorders clinic on campus, suggested students build these five habits to stay mentally well.

1. Manage expectations:
“It’s important to learn to have reasonable expectations of yourself when you go to a new place. You’re not going to instantly figure out the way to learn and get 90s in all classes.”

2. Take a break:
“There’s no doubt that people are more efficient when they work for fixed periods of time, followed by planned breaks.”

3. Build your social network:
“Human contact helps to alleviate stress. It’s important not to allow yourself to become isolated. Get involved with campus activities because they provide vehicles for meeting new people.”

4. Hit the gym:
“It’s been proven repeatedly that physical activity helps people manage anxiety and elevate mood. Make sure you incorporate exercise as part of your week.”

5. Ask for help:
“Every campus has a student health service and they are quite good at dealing with students and helping those who are stressed out.”