This page focuses on ways to deal with daily stresses and pressures. It includes a self-study module with ways to help you manage stress and tasks to implement right away to help you get started.
We all feel stressed from time to time, however, for some people the pressure they are facing in their daily life becomes too much. By understanding stress and how to recognise our own personal warning signs we can find ways in which to deal with stress to help lead happier and more fulfilling lives. The information below details the symptoms and causes of stress, with a short self-study module at the end with the key points to help you to cement your learnings.
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. We all need a certain amount of pressure to function well, as pressure helps people to reach their peak efficiency. However, when pressure becomes too intense and prolonged, this can lead to more serious symptoms and problems such as anxiety, depression, headaches, weight gain/loss, sleep disturbance, sweating, abdominal pain, chest pain and panic attacks.
Stress can have a profound effect on someone’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It can cause them to feel anxious, out of control and unable to cope. This can lead to feeling irritable or constantly worrying about situations and can even affect a person’s self-esteem. Acute stress might come from any area of life, including work, home, relationships, illness or finances.
There are a wide range of causes of stress and they will differ from one person to another – what may cause stress for one person may be taken in their stride by another person.
However, common causes of stress are bereavement, getting married, divorce, debt, ill-health, moving house, preparing for and sitting exams, changing jobs and problems at work.
Pressure of work is a common cause of stress, perhaps worsened by staff shortages or absences, along with problematic relationships with work colleagues or a manager, restructures, other major changes and/or worries about losing one’s job. People are often reluctant to ask for help for fear of demonstrating weakness or appearing to be unable to cope.
It is important to recognise when you are stressed so you can steps to deal with it. There are many common signs and symptoms – see our list below of stress symptoms.
To see whether you are stressed you could try the Stress Management Society’s online stress test
If several of the symptoms below apply to you, you may want to consider taking action to tackle stress.
- asthma or breathlessness
- chest pains
- cramps or muscle spasms
- fainting spells
- headaches or migraine
- heart attack
- high blood pressure
- peptic ulcers
- rheumatoid arthritis
- sexual difficulties
- skin disorders
- tendency to sweat
- sleep problems
- recurring illness
- tremors and nervous tics.
- loss of interest in others
- denying there is a problem
- dread of the future
- fearing failure
- feeling alone
- feeling neglected
- increased irritability and a loss of interest in others
- heightened sensitivity to criticism
- loss of concentration
- loss of sense of humour
- taking no interest in life
- thinking you are bad or ugly
- unable to show true feelings.
- avoiding difficult situations
- craving for food
- difficulty getting to sleep and early morning waking
- drinking and smoking more
- lack of appetite
- restlessness/unable to settle
- difficulty concentrating
- lots of things on the go
- signs of tension, such as nail biting
- unable to make decisions.
The stress symptoms mentioned above can be short-lived if you take steps to relieve yourself from stress or pro-actively avoid becoming stressed.
If you experience continuous stress and find that the symptoms do not go away, it can be helpful to seek help. Consulting your GP is a great place to start. Seeking professional help early may help you to potentially avoid further psychological problems.
This page explores the causes of stress, how we can recognise our own personal warning signs, and ways we can deal with stress to help lead happier and more fulfilling lives.