Holiday stress getting you down? Learn to Bounce Back

Holiday stress getting you down? Learn to Bounce Back

Is December your least favourite month? Do you want to pull your hair out every time you hear a holiday song? Are store lines causing your blood to boil?

Although anxiety, depression and low mood may occur anytime during the year, the stress during and after the holidays can amplify these feelings.

To help cope, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), York and South Simcoe Branch offers Bounce Back, a free, self-guided, multi-lingual mental health program designed to help adults rebound from low mood and mild to moderate stress or anxiety.

Bounce Back offers telephone coaching by trained experts, easy-to-understand self-guided workbooks and an instructional video to help people learn how to boost and maintain their mental health.

Resources are available in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Russian and Hebrew.

As a self-guided tool, Bounce Back offers some of the same benefits as seeing a trained professional, without having to pay for the service, travel, or wait for an appointment with a counsellor or therapist.

Bounce Back was able to remind me of what the past mental health providers had shown me, and more importantly how capable I am dealing with my mental health,” said Tim Trobacher, a program participant. “Having a coach that checked in on me and my progress was an amazing asset I’ve never had before.”

Read more about Trobacher’s experience with Bounce Back.

Bounce Back provides people the flexibility and tools to help them focus on the problems they may be having,” said Rebecca Shields, CEO of CMHA York and South Simcoe. “Bounce Back is particularly timely given that many people have mental health challenges while trying to cope with the stress and anxiety of the holidays.”

Participants can apply what they learn anytime of year. For example, Bounce Back teaches participants to:

  • Be realistic – Are your goals attainable or are you expecting too much? Try breaking down goals into small enough pieces that you can manage them over time.
  • Stop, think, reflect – Are your thoughts helpful or unhelpful? If unhelpful, ask yourself, “are these thoughts based on fact or negative feelings?”
  • Take a break – Stressed, agitated or down? Take a break, a deep breath and do something else for a few minutes to help you become grounded and gain perspective.
  • Listen to your body – Do you get fatigued, headaches, stomach discomfort, cold sweats, tense muscles or shortness of breath when under stress or feeling down? This may be your body telling you that it’s time to develop some mental health strategies to cope with stress.
  • Change your behaviour – Participate in activities that make you feel healthy and satisfied. Positive behaviours affect the way we feel.

“All of my patients who have participated in the Bounce Back program have benefited and have acquired skills for managing their anxiety and depression,” said Dr. Susan Coish. “Finding psychological services is very difficult, especially those that are funded. Bounce Back removes the travel and costs and makes services available to those for whom there are barriers.”

Bounce Back is available to people in parts of Toronto, York Region and southern Simcoe County. Participants must be 18 or older. Registration can be made online at

Fast Facts:

  • 80 percent of people who are depressed respond well to treatment; however, 90 percent of people who are depressed never seek treatment.
  • More than 1,100 people participated in Bounce Back since it launched on July 1, 2015.
  • More than 60 percent of participants are between 25 and 54; nearly 65 percent of participants are women.