Lisa Hannam
Lisa Hannam

Three Stress Hacks I’m Stealing From Emily Hampshire

When you’re totally stressed, how do you fake being calm, confident and chill? I don’t know about you, but some days it’s tough to grin and bear it—even after tearfully watching Hillary Clinton’s “let’s keep fighting” concession speech. While I have a few techniques for dealing with stress, when I got the chance to meet Montreal-born, Toronto-based actor Emily Hampshire, I asked her how she handles it.

Unlike those of us who have jobs where we can put headphones on to cut out the noise, or close our office door, Emily has to work no matter what, even if she’s stressed. You’ve seen her as the unsettling Jennifer Goines on 12 Monkeys and as the no-nonsense Stevie Budd on Schitt’s Creek. When we met at Peter Pan Bistro in Toronto, I asked her how she lets go of “Schitt” and faces the day like a boss. Here’s what I learned:

1. Recognize the source.
“I definitely feel contagious stress,” she told me over coffee and madeleines. “If I have a hair and makeup person who is stressed, then I feel it. I need to know what it is, acknowledge what it is, or I get stressed out. The worst Tinder date I was ever on was with someone who was nervous, and I became nervous. I definitely need someone who is super confident around me because my natural go-to is to be super nervous. But Stevie’s not like that. That’s why I love playing her. She’s comfortable in her own skin, and she doesn’t want to appear like she cares.”

2. Don’t react.
“The phrase ‘Let me think about that’ takes away that feeling of being put on the spot. If somebody said that to me, I would be totally OK with it,” she said. “That is a good way for me to stop reacting out of stress and not feel anxious or stressed about it.” It’s really not a big deal to digest a situation before reacting in a stressful way.

3. Put your brain on pause.
“I was recently getting anxiety from overthinking, and overwhelming thoughts. The warning sign, for me at least, was just not being present. I need to ground myself in practical reality and in the moment I’m in right now,” she said. “It’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s like what I was saying about contagious stress. It’s about naming things and being honest about what is happening. [That] takes away the stress and fear. It makes such a big difference.”