Stress is the body's way of responding to a perceived threat, whether that is physical or mental. It is normal to experience a certain level of stress and generally for most people it is short lived and in response to a specific trigger, for example work pressures or an exam. When the body is under stress it triggers a natural process of releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline, to help the body be ready to spring into action. Too much stress can dysregulate the body and if it persists in the longer term it can be harmful to a person's health.


Symptoms of stress


Would you recognise common symptoms of stress? These can be both physical and mental. Examples of physical symptoms of stress include difficulty breathing, panic attacks or feelings of panic, sweating, chest pains, feeling dizzy or fainting and increased blood pressure. Examples of mental symptoms of stress include difficulty concentrating, struggling to remember things or keep focused, feeling restless or tearful and wishing to withdraw from people or things you previously enjoyed.


Causes of stress


This can be caused by a one-off event but can often be a build up of things. The causes will be unique to the individual person but could be caused by changes in your life or circumstances, feeling under pressure, relationship or financial difficulties, work, being isolated or feeling alone or having experienced a bereavement.


How can I manage stress?


There are lots of different ways of managing stress and learning to become more resilient. Some general tips to help include looking after yourself in terms of diet, exercise and making sure you are getting enough sleep. Do you have a good work/life balance? Do you have any hobbies or interests you could spend more time on to help distract you and relax? 


Having a good support network around you has been shown to reduce stress. Can you speak to your friends/family about how you are feeling? If the stress is at work can you speak to your manager or HR team to identify some support? 


Trying to break things down into smaller, more manageable tasks could help you feel less overwhelmed.


If stress persists and is having a prolonged impact on your physical and mental health consider speaking to your GP for advice. Talking can really help identify what is happening for you and to help you come up with coping strategies. If you would like to explore these issues through counselling please get in touch and I can explain how therapy could support you.