What is stress?
Stress is something everyone feels at times, and there are all kinds of stressful situations that can be a part of daily life. Low-level stress can even be helpful or motivational!
Although some stress is helpful to us, too much stress can affect our mood, our body and our relationships – especially when it feels out of our control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable, and affect our self-esteem.1
When people experience too much stress this can lead to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, often called burnout.
Everybody deals with stress differently. Our ability to cope depends on a number of things including genetics, early life events, personality and social and economic circumstances2.
What causes stress?
So many events in our lives will cause us stress. Among other things, these can include;
- Losing your job
On top of this work-related stress can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Did you know people affected by work-related stress lose an average of 24 days of work due to illness2?
Signs and symptoms of stress
Stress affects our whole body. From physical changes to impacting our emotions. Sometimes when we are stressed, it is obvious to see. Other times we might keep going without recognising the signs.
How might stress make you feel3?
- Over-burdened or overwhelmed
- Anxious, nervous or afraid
- As if your mind is racing and you can’t switch off
- Unable to enjoy yourself
- Like you’ve lost your sense of humour
- Worried & tense
What are the physical signs of stress3?
- Difficulty breathing
- Panic attacks
- Blurred eyesight
- Problems sleeping
- Muscle aches and headaches
- Chest pains
- Feeling sick, dizzy or fainting
How can stress make you behave3?
- Find it hard to make decisions
- Unable to concentrate
- Unable to remember things
- Constantly worry
- Snap at people
- Bite your nails
- Pick at or itch your skin
- Grind your teeth or clench your jaw
How can you deal with stress?
When you start to feel stressed and overwhelmed, there are a number of things you can do yourself to try to manage.
- Recognise when stress is a problem. Being able to link your physical and emotional feelings with the problems you are facing is important. Try not to ignore physical warning signs such as tense muscles, tiredness and headaches. Think about what is causing your stress. Sort them into issues with a practical solution, things that will get better with time and things you can’t do anything about. Make a plan to address the things you can change
- Think about where you can make changes. Are you taking on too much? Could you have some things over to someone else? Try to prioritise things and re order your life
- Build supportive relationships. Find close friends or family who can offer help and advice.
- Eat healthily. A healthy diet can improve your mood
- Get some exercise. Physical exercise can help manage the effects of stress by producing endorphins that boost your mood.
- Get restful sleep. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, try to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume and avoid too much screen time before bed. Write a to do list for the next day to prioritise what needs doing, but make sure you put it aside before bed. Keep a sleep diary to track your sleep and make positive changes