How To Deal With Stress

Stress causes physical changes in the body designed to help you take on threats or difficulties. You may notice that your heart pounds, your breathing quickens, your muscles tense and you start to sweat. This is sometimes known as the fight or flight response.

Once the threat or difficulty passes, these physical effects usually fade. But if you’re constantly stressed, your body stays in a state of high alert and you may develop stress related symptoms.

Symptoms of Stress

Stress can affect how you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically, and also how you behave.

How You May Feel Emotionally

  • Overwhelmed
  • Irritable and wound up
  • Anxious or fearful
  • Lacking in self esteem

How You May Feel Mentally

  • Racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions

How You May Feel Physically

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Eating too much or too little

How You May Behave

  • Drinking or smoking more
  • Snapping at people
  • Avoiding things or people you are having problems with

How to Tackle Stress

You can’t always prevent stress, but there are lots of things you can do to manage stress better. You could:

  • Try simple stress busters
  • Use time management techniques
  • Try mindfulness
  • Use calming breathing exercises
  • Download some relaxation and mindfulness apps
  • Listen to an anxiety control audio guide

Other things that may help:

  • Talk to family or friends about your problems
  • Make more time for your interests and hobbies
  • Take a break or holiday
  • Exercise regularly and make sure you are eating healthily
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep

What Causes Stress?

Big life changes often create stress, even happy events like having a baby or planning a wedding. Feeling that you aren’t in control of events in your life. For example, if you are diagnosed with a serious illness or you get made redundant can also cause stress.

Stress may be related to:

  • Work – For example, unemployment, a high workload or retirement
  • Family – For example, divorce, relationship difficulties or being a carer
  • Housing – For example, moving house or problems with neighbours
  • Personal issues – For example, coping with a serious illness, coping with bereavement or financial problems

It’s important to tackle the causes of stress in your life if you can. Avoiding problems rather than facing them can make things worse. However, it’s not always possible to change a stressful situation.

You may need to accept there’s nothing you can do about it and refocus your energies elsewhere. For example, if you’re a carer, find ways to take breaks and do the things you enjoy.

When to see your doctor about stress

If you’ve tried self help techniques and they aren’t working, see a doctor. There are lots of other options open to you, such as guided self help or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). You may also be able to attend a stress management course.


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