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What do we mean by stress?

Stress can be thought of as feelings of mental or emotional pressure. Low levels of stress over short periods are normal to feel at times and can be helpful in motivating us to do certain actions. When stress lasts a long time, is very intense, or builds up due to lots of different sources of stress coming at once it can have damaging effects on our mental wellbeing.

People have different ways of managing stress. For some it may lead to under or over-eating, or using drugs or alcohol. These behaviours may feel helpful in the short term but in the longer term they are damaging habits and can actually reduce our ability to deal with stress.


How do I know if I’m stressed?

Some signs of stress you might feel include:

  • Feeling irritable or angry
  • Feeling over-whelmed
  • Feeling a sense of dread
  • Feeling anxious, nervous or fearful
  • Feeling worried or tense
  • Feeling lonely or neglected.

Physical changes you might notice include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty breathing normally
  • Headaches or muscle aches
  • Sore eyes or blurry vision
  • Sweating
  • Changes in bowel patterns
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pains and high blood pressure.

Do you notice signs of stress in yourself?

Sometimes other people notice changes in our behaviour before we do. Try talking to someone you trust about what your early signs of stress might be. This can help people to feel comfortable to check in with you if you start showing signs of stress. The earlier signs are spotted the easier it can be to deal with them.

What can I do to cope with stress?

  • Try to understand what factors are contributing to it so you are better prepared for when difficult feelings might arise.

  • Be kind to yourself. Sources of stress are often external which you can’t necessarily control, but you can try to control how you respond.

  • Make time to relax.

  • Make time for the things you enjoy. Whether that’s being with people who help you feel good, time for a hobby or time outdoors, these activities help us cope with stress.

  • Try to get enough sleep, tiredness makes it harder to cope with stress.
  • Eat healthily and get some physical activity, looking after yourself physically will help you mental wellbeing.

Find out more

 Stress | Mental Health Foundation

Think about your signs of stress and how best you can cope with stress.


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