First Aid Kit for Stress

Stock up on these sure-fire remedies for dialing down those stressful moments.


Humans have been making music since we lived in caves, and for good reason: recent studies show that music pleases an ancient part of the brain, the striatum, releasing a “happy” molecule called dopamine. St. Michael’s occupational therapist Heather McDonald agrees that “what’s good for the spirit is good for brain health,” so check out the United Nations’ Positive Playlist: six of the world’s happiest songs spanning five decades and almost as many genres.


Recommended by St. Michael’s Department of Psychiatry, Women’s Health Care Centre and our chief medical officer Dr. Doug Sinclair, a few minutes of mindfulness meditation can refresh you when you feel frazzled. Social workers Darlene Dzendoletas and Rachael Frankford tell us, “The key to being mindful is noticing how you feel without being critical or judgmental about it.” Noticing how you feel is the first step to changing how you feel. Try these Mindful Awareness Stabilization Techniques.


Much of the stress in our lives comes from...OURSELVES! Our thought patterns (or cognitive behaviour) might be on autopilot, triggering painful feelings or worries when we think about a certain person, place or situation. Notice if your inner rant is a re-run and put a fresh, positive spin on nagging negatives. Book time with a professional or access self-help CBT resources at St. Michael’s Patient & Family Learning Centre, currently in the Marketeria, and potentially boasting a new prime location on the first floor of the Peter Gilgan Patient Care Tower, part of Inspire 2018.


Whether it’s the ritual of a formal tea ceremony or a quick cup, tea contains powerful antioxidants that support good health and its soothing fragrance acts like aromatherapy! Choose naturally caffeine-free teas like chamomile or rooibos. White and green teas are lower in caffeine than black teas if you need a pick-me-up.


Comfort foods high in refined flours or sugars send your blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride that can later spike stress hormone production. Snack instead on any of Dr. David Jenkins’s Top 10 Healthy Foods. Low-glycemic fruits like oranges, tangerines (#8) and berries (#9) are sweet treats that can help improve glycemic control in people with Type 2 Diabetes. Apples (#10) can lower the risk of heart disease, while almonds, walnuts and pistachios (#6) help do that plus aid in lowering cholesterol. 

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