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What is stress?

Stress is our body’s reaction to pressure. When we are stressed, our bodies produce stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This is sometimes known as the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Symptoms may include:

  • Feeling run-down or tired.
  • Muscular tension, heart racing, tight chest, shortness of breath, stomach butterflies, sweating, or shaking.
  • Frequent headaches or stomach problems.
  • Changes in sleep or appetite.
  • Lack of interest in things and struggling to enjoy yourself.
  • Feeling more emotional, tearful, or crying more than usual.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Lots of us feel this way, in fact, according to Mental Health Foundation:

74% of us have felt so stressed that we have felt unable to cope.

Why do we feel stressed?

Sometimes there are clear reasons for us feeling stressed, such as issues at work, money problems, or relationship troubles. But sometimes there isn’t an obvious cause.

How can we manage our stress?

We don’t always have control over the circumstances that are causing us stress. However, there are ways that we can manage our feelings to make us more resilient and help us cope.

When we’re feeling stressed, it’s important to find time to do something that we find relaxing to boost our mood and improve our wellbeing. It can feel counter-intuitive to take a break to do something relaxing if we’re stressed or busy, but it is really important. It can improve our focus and allow us to return to tasks with a fresh and positive mindset.

Everyone is different, so everyone finds different activities relaxing. Find what works for you and fit it into your daily life. There are lots of things you can do to improve your wellbeing, like getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep.

Examples of relaxing coping strategies may include:

  • Reading a book
  • Going for a walk
  • Chatting to friends
  • Cooking
  • Doing yoga
  • Having a bath

Getting more support

If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, don’t solider on alone. Talk to your friends and family about how you’re feeling so they can support you. You can also speak to your GP to find out about the support available in your area.

Talking therapies such as CBT can help you identify the source of your worries and learn ways to cope. We provide free NHS talking therapies across the country, find out more and self-refer here.

As the sessions progressed, I became more aware of the causes of my stress and the tools to ‘cope’ with it. I now feel much more positive about myself and the way forward. I know there will be future times when anxieties and stresses come in normal life, but I am now beginning to understand them without them controlling me.

Find an NHS talking therapy provider in your area here.

Mental Health UK also have some great tips for managing stress and improving your wellbeing in the workplace, find out more here.

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