Stress: the causes symptoms and solutions
Hands up if you have felt stressed in the past week? With the recent news headlines, rising cost of living and adjusting to life post pandemic, it is no wonder that we are all feeling more stressed than ever. To celebrate Stress Awareness Month we take a look stress and what we can do to deal with it.
What causes stress?
Feelings of stress can occur at any time of our life – usually there is a trigger that causes us to feel under pressure. Stress can be caused by life events such as becoming a parent, bereavement, health issues, injuries, relationship difficulties, divorce, exams, losing your job, starting a job, moving house, poor living conditions, experiencing discrimination, debt and money worries.
When we face change, feel overwhelmed with responsibilities or have to deal with uncertainty we have to rely on our emotional resilience. If we don’t feel we have adequate support or feel like we are losing control, we may start to exhibit classic signs of being stressed.
Signs and symptoms of stress
Stress can affect you both physically and mentally. While a certain amount of stress is beneficial to us, too much stress can cause a whole host of problems such as:
- Anxiety and a constant sense of worry or unease
- Feeling depressed
- Being irritable, impatient or angry and snapping at those around us
- Feeling like we are unable to simply switch off
- Having racing thoughts
- Feeling intensely lonely
- Having low self-esteem and feeling tearful all the time
- Being overwhelmed and unsure what to do
- Having panic attacks
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
Behavioural / Social symptoms
- Finding it difficult to make any kind of decision
- Avoiding situations that are causing you stress which result in you becoming isolated and withdrawn
- Becoming forgetful and disorganised
- Losing interest in activities or socialising
- Decline in you work performance as a result of losing focus and finding it hard to concentrate
- Finding yourself eating more or having no appetite at all
- Relationship issues
- Feeling restless
- Muscle tension
- Having problems falling asleep or staying asleep
- Sexual dysfunction
- Feeling tired all the time
- Grinding your teeth in your sleep or clenching your jaw
- Unexplained digestive problems
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Feeling sick, dizzy and faint
- Rapid heartbeat
- Frequent infections and colds
How to deal with stress
Don’t ignore it Although it may seem tempting to simply carry on and ignore all the warning signs, hoping that stress will magically disappear, if you ask for help or put some tools into place to help yourself, you can tackle the problem head on. By addressing the problem you are avoiding the risk of burnout.
Talk to someone A problem shared is a problem halved. Think about whom you could talk to and what you want to get from the conversation. Maybe you just want to vent and let off stream or maybe you want advice and some strategies to help you cope? Maybe you just want to know if anyone has felt the same as you so you don’t feel so alone. Sharing our feelings can help us feel connected and supported.
Take time out Get the kettle on and have cup of tea. Run yourself a hot bath. Go for a walk around the block. By giving yourself the permission to have a short break won’t solve the stressful situation but it will give you a breather from it. Down tools and savour that cuppa.
Check in with yourself Set yourself a challenge to take a few quiet moments every day to check in with how you are feeling. Are you shoulders hunched? Care you clenching your jaw? Has your leg been jugging? Take some deep breaths and try tensing and un-tensing parts of your body to ease your tension.
Focus on you Instead of spreading yourself thinly and always putting other people’s needs before your own, make sure you look after yourself first. After all, in an emergency on an airplane, a mother puts her mask on before she helps her child.
My Possible Self is a mental health app that uses clinically recognised content to help you improve your mind. Teaming up with our friends at Priory Healthcare, world leaders in mental health, we have created interactive tools and techniques, using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), customised for digital use.