A light at the end of the tunnel

Stress occurs as part of everyday life, but too much can be detrimental.

By Lindsay Dickson
Team lead and wellness navigator, Chebucto Community Health Team

Julie Anne is a middle-aged professional woman. She was managing well both at home and work until she started to experience a build-up of stress at home. 

Stress occurs as part of everyday life, but too much can result in you being unable to think straight, inactivity and poor performance. 

For Julie Anne, it resulted in the need to take a leave of absence from work. But during a recent visit to her family doctor, Julie Anne spotted a poster for free health and wellness programs offered by the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Community Health Teams. She decided to access several of the emotional wellness programs that are offered by the Chebucto Community Health Team.

Julie Anne credits many of her health improvements to the help she received through the Community Health Teams’ group emotional wellness programming and one-on-one wellness navigation.

“Every program I ever attended was beneficial.  They have so many emotional wellness programs to pick from and to do on your own time,” says Julie Anne. 

“Emotional wellness programming includes living with stress, assertiveness skills training, discover your personal strengths, and renovate your relationships, to name a few,” reports Melissa Perry, wellness navigator with the Chebucto Community Health Team.

All programs offered by the four Community Health Teams in the greater Halifax area start at different times during the day and at a variety of community locations in order to make it more convenient and accessible for residents to attend. 

Julie Anne said the skills she learned were beneficial, particularly the assertiveness skills.

“I could practice [these skills] in training and then go home to real situations and utilize the skills I learned. I had the option in a group to focus on real life situations, personalized to me while maintaining confidentiality.” 

She also sought counselling sessions from a private health care provider, which enriched the various strategies for emotional wellness that were discussed at Community Health Team group programming. 

“Having these free programs sped up my healing process,” she said. “The programs were complementary to private counseling which helped remind me of the skills I used in the emotional wellness programs and helped me use them in specific ways for me.  This may have helped me need less counseling sessions.”

Gradually the light at the end of the tunnel returned for Julie Anne.  She  was motivated to learn strategies of how she could cope with her stressors in a different way, and was prepared to make lifestyle changes for herself that were identified by the Chebucto Community Health Team’s wellness navigator, Melissa Perry.

“I learned that how we get through a stressful situation depends a lot on us.  It’s how we cope with stress that makes the difference.  I learned to look after myself, mentally and physically, to build in relaxation, put things in perspective, eat healthy, have fun, exercise, be assertive, and to get enough rest.  I learned to be mindful, and not to rehash yesterday’s frustrations or fear tomorrow challenges.”

Julie Anne returned to work a productive employee, a more organized mom at home, and a compassionate caregiver to her aging parent.  No one is superhuman, and once an individual becomes more aware of their abilities at home and at work, it is easier to become more settled. 

We live in a hectic world, but we are still in control.  We can’t be all things to all people but we are all valued. 

“My experience with the health professionals at the Community Health Teams gave me the coping strategies to achieve many more fulfilling and happy days,” says Julie Anne.  “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

If you don’t know where to start, the wellness navigators at the Community Health Teams are available to meet with you one-on-one to help you decide your readiness for change and help you access resources you may not have known existed.

Community Health Teams focus on the promotion of health and wellness in the community and are an initiative of Primary Health Care, Nova Scotia Health Authority, in partnership with the IWK Health Centre and community partners.

For more information on emotional wellness programs and wellness navigation, or other free health and wellness programs offered by the Community Health Teams, visit www.communityhealthteams.ca.  

Note: Client's name changed for confidentiality.