You think I might be STRESSED?!

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It can be tricky to recognise the signs of stress until someone points them out. Find out what stress is, how to recognise it and a number of different ways to manage and reduce stress.

What is stress?
Stress is a feeling that’s created when you react to certain events. It’s the body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness.

Stress becomes a problem when you become over-stressed and it starts to affect how you cope with day to day stuff.

How does stress affect the body?
The human body responds to events which provoke stress (stressors) by activating the nervous system and specific hormones. The hypothalamus signals the adrenal glands to produce more of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol and release them into the bloodstream. These hormones speed up heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and metabolism. These physical changes prepare you to react quickly and effectively to handle the pressure of the moment.

This natural reaction is known as the stress response. Working properly, the body’s stress response improves your ability to perform well under pressure.

What causes over-stress?
Stress affects everybody in a different way. What causes one person to become over-stressed may not have the same affect on someone else.

  • Many things may cause people to become over-stressed, including:
  • problems at work
  • sexual, physical or emotional abuse
  • relationships
  • new responsibilities
  • moving to a new place
  • a traumatic event – such as the death of a loved one
  • new or chronic illness or disability
  • peer pressure, being bullied
  • unrealistic expectations placed on you by yourself, friends, family or culture

Click NEXT to find out what can happen if you are over-stressed What can happen if you’re over-stressed?
If you become over-stressed it may have unwanted consequences on your health – both physical and psychological. Some of these may include:

Psychological and emotional

  • feeling hostile, angry, or irritable
  • feeling anxious
  • avoiding other people
  • crying
  • moodiness, feeling frustrated with things that normally don’t bother you
  • low self-esteem or lack of confidence
  • anxiety attacks
  • depression or sadness


  • upset stomach, diarrhoea, or indigestion
  • headache
  • backache
  • inability to sleep
  • eating too much or too little
  • raised heart rate
  • smoking

Stress and relationships
Maintaining relationships with friends, family, work colleagues with or partners may be difficult at times and may cause you to become over-stressed. This might be because you have different values from or expectations of each other.

To help manage the stress, it may be helpful to talk to someone about what is upsetting you. Talking to someone you trust may help you to work out why you are stressed out by the relationship and what you can do about it.

Click NEXT to find out how to manage stress Managing stress
It may not be possible to remove the stress from your life, however managing your stress may help you to get things done. Below are some ideas for managing stress:

Go for a walk or run
Exercising can be a good way of relieving stress. It helps to get rid of all that pent up energy and can leave you feeling much calmer. Any sort of exercise can be good. You may want to go for a walk with friends or head to the gym.

Spend time with friends
If you are feeling stressed you may need to take your mind off things for a while. Spending time with friends is one way of doing that. It may be that similar things which stress you out, also stress your friends out, and so talking about your problems with them may be helpful.

Taking some deep breaths
Taking a deep breath in, holding it, and then letting it out slowly can help to relax the body and hence calm you down. Taking deep breaths before a stressful event may help to calm you down and focus on what it is you are about to do.

Setting realistic goals
Becoming over-stressed may make it harder to keep things in perspective. Setting realistic goals (both for the short-term and long-term) and time management strategies may be useful ways of managing your stress.

Have multiple options to achieve your goals
There is never just one way to achieve something. It’s important not to put all your eggs into the one basket – investigate and plan other ways to get to where you want to go, whether it’s a fulfilling retirement, job, or holiday.

Click NEXT to discover more ways to manage stress Try to avoid smoking, alcohol and caffeine
It may be tempting to use smoking, alcohol and drugs as a means of managing your stress. Try to avoid using these things as a way of coping, as in the long run they are likely to make you more stressed out.

Watch what you’re thinking
Your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see things. Is your cup half full or half empty? A healthy dose of optimism can help you make the best of stressful circumstances. Even if you’re out of practice, or tend to be a bit of a pessimist, everyone can learn to think more optimistically and reap the benefits.

Speaking to someone
If you are finding you are always stressed and it is hard to carry on with day to day activities, it may be helpful to talk to someone about it, whether they are a friend, doctor or counsellor

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