What is stress?

On this page you will find out about what stress is. You also have the opportunity to go through a short self-study module to learn about stress, what causes it, and how to identify if you are feeling overly stressed.

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. 

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.

In this short self-study module you will learn about stress, what causes it and how to identify if you are feeling overly stressed.
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What is Stress?
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Before you begin.
Before you begin, remember:

• Be open and honest with yourself
• Treat yourself with kindness and respect
• Be present
• Enjoy it!

Opening task
Before you start, take note of what brought you to this workshop, and take a moment to notice any emotions or feelings you are experiencing right now.
What is stress?
What is stress?

Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. We all need pressure to function well and it helps us to reach our peak efficiency but when it becomes too intense and prolonged, it can lead to more serious symptoms such as stress. Watch our video about the pressure curve.

Stress can affect...
Stress can affect our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, causing us to feel anxious, out of control and unable to cope. It can lead to feeling irritable, constant worrying and affect our self-esteem.
What makes us feel stressed?
What makes us feel stressed?

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. We also have a factsheet about the causes of stress.

Work can make us feel stressed.
Work can make us feel stressed if it is worsened by staff shortages, unhealthy relationships, restructures, major changes or worries about losing your job.
Do you regularly deal with these issues at work?
Work can make us stressed if we regularly deal with any of the issues listed below.

• Risking your life
• Being responsible for the lives of others
• Facing death
• Losing colleagues through death and injury
• Facing the unknown
• Dealing with people in shock and crisis
• Working long hours
• Spending significant time away from home and family
• Being or feeling misunderstood.

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Do you notice any of these early warning signs in yourself or others?
People are often reluctant to ask for help which can lead to acute stress. Do you notice any of these early warning signs in yourself or others?

• Headaches
• Tearful
• Excess sweating
• Sleep disturbance
• Overwhelmed or hopelessness
• Angry
• Tense Muscles
• Drinking or smoking often.

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Do you recognise any of the following thinking styles?
When we feel stressed, we may not think rationally. Do you recognise any of the following thinking styles?
Overgeneralisation.
Overgeneralisation.
"It’s happened once so it will happen over and over again."
Blaming.
Blaming.
You hold others responsible or blame yourself for every problem.
Filtering.
Filtering.
Taking on the negative and discarding the positive.
Being right.
Being right.
Unable to accept when you are wrong.
Assumption.
Assumption.
Not checking the facts or basing your conclusions on previous experience.
Misinterpretation.
Misinterpretation.
Taking things the wrong way such as emails or texts from your colleagues.
Keep a stress diary.
Keep a stress diary.

A stress diary can help you become more aware of what is causing your stress and help you to develop coping mechanisms when under pressure. For the next few weeks, make note of the date, time and place of stressful episodes. Give the stress a rating between 0 and 10 (where 10 is the highest level of stress):

• What you were doing?
• Who you were with?
• How did you feel?
• What were your thoughts?

Brought to you by Pharmacist Support
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Thanks for learning!
What would you like to do now?
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Are you looking for free mental health and wellbeing training?

Our Wellbeing Learning Platform is for individual wellbeing learning and training and is available to pharmacists, trainees and students. By signing up to the platform, you can access a range of free online wellbeing workshops such as Stress Management and Building Resilience and Live the life you want to lead.

Find out more and sign up for free

Other support on managing stress

Other support on managing stress

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The short self-study module covers ways you can determine what is causing your stress and tips to help manage stress and anxiety as a pharmacy student.

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Other support on managing stress

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This page explores how we can understand stress and recognise our own personal warning signs, and ways we can deal with stress to help lead happier and more fulfilling lives.