By Sarah Hackett, Student on Placement at The Eaves
We know what it is like to feel stressed and that at times being under pressure is a normal part of life. But becoming overwhelmed by stress can lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse. On Stress Awareness Day we bring awareness to the many of us that are suffering and highlight the ways that stress can affect people and what you can do to manage your stress before it becomes a problem.
What is stress?
Millions around the UK experience stress and it is damaging to our health and wellbeing. For example, at some point in the last year, 74% of us have felt so stressed that we have felt unable to cope (Mental Health Foundation).
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. When you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Stress is your body’s reaction to help you deal with pressure or threats. This is sometimes called a “fight or flight” response. Your stress hormone levels usually return to normal once the pressure or threat has passed. A small amount of stress can be useful. It can motivate you to take action and get tasks completed. It can also make you feel alive and excited. But too much stress can cause negative effects such as a change in your mood, your body and relationship issues. It can also lead to long term physical illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and is related to some skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis (Anxiety UK).
If you are stressed, you may:
- feel overwhelmed
- have racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating
- be irritable
- feel constantly worried, anxious or scared
- feel a lack of self-confidence
- have trouble sleeping or feel tired all the time
- avoid things or people you are having problems with
- be eating more or less than usual
- drink or smoke more than usual
Possible causes of stress
Stress affects people differently, and the things that cause stress vary from person to person.
The level of stress you are comfortable with may be higher or lower than that of other people around you. Stressful feelings typically happen when we feel we do not have the resources to manage the challenges we face.
Pressure at work, school or home, illness, or difficult or sudden life events can all lead to stress.
Some possible causes of stress are:
- our individual genes, upbringing and experiences
- difficulties in our personal lives and relationships
- big or unexpected life changes, like moving house, having a baby or starting to care for someone
- money difficulties, like debt or struggling to afford daily essentials
- health issues, either for you or someone close to you
- pregnancy and children
- problems with housing, like the conditions, maintenance or tenancy
- a difficult or troubled work environment
- feeling lonely and unsupported
If you feel that you may be experiencing stress or feeling overwhelmed, our professionals see individuals of all ages, families, couples and young people 12 hours a day Monday to Saturday 9am to 9pm. Please call 01483 917000 to speak to a member of the referrals team. You can also send us an enquiry via our website.