Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to raise awareness of the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.
Sometimes, a small amount of stress can help us to complete tasks and feel more energised. But stress can become a problem when it lasts for a long time or is very intense. In some cases, stress can affect our physical and mental health.
To mark Stress Awareness Month, we’ve put together a list of symptoms and causes of stress, as well as advice on how to deal with it, courtesy of >Mind Charity:–
How stress can make you feel
If you are stressed, you might feel:
- Irritable, angry, impatient or wound up
- Over-burdened or overwhelmed
- Anxious, nervous or afraid
- Like your thoughts are racing and you can’t switch off
- Unable to enjoy yourself
- Uninterested in life
- Like you’ve lost your sense of humour
- A sense of dread
- Worried or tense
- Neglected or lonely
- Existing mental health problems getting worse
Physical signs of stress
The signs of stress are not only mental, but also physical. The hormones that our bodies produce to respond to stressful situations can have many effects. These might include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Panic attacks
- Blurred eyesight or sore eyes
- Sleep problems
- Muscle aches and headaches
- Chest pains and high blood pressure
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Feeling sick, dizzy or fainting
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Developing rashes or itchy skin
- Changes to your period or menstrual cycle
- Existing physical health problems getting worse
Causes of Stress
Many things can cause stress. You might feel stressed because of a big event or situation in your life. Or it might be a build-up of many smaller things.
You may experience stress if you:
- Feel under lots of pressure
- Face big changes in your life
- Are worried about something
- Don\’t have much or any control over the outcome of a situation
- Have responsibilities that you find overwhelming
- Don\’t have enough work, activities or change in your life
- Experience discrimination, hate or abuse
- Are going through a period of uncertainty
How stressed you feel in different situations may depend on factors like:
- How comfortable you feel in certain types of situation
- What else you are going through at the time
- Your past experiences, and how these affect the way you feel about yourself
- The resources you have available to you, such as time and money
- The amount of support you have from other people
Stress is a very unique experience for each person. Some situations that don\’t bother you at all, might cause someone else a lot of stress.
This is because we are all influenced by different experiences. We also have different levels of support around us, and different ways of coping.
Dealing with Stress
Taking care of your wellbeing can help you to manage stress better. Different things will work for different people, but here are some ideas you could try:
- Be kind to yourself. Learning to be kinder to yourself can help to improve how you feel in different situations. Try to take breaks in your day for things you enjoy. And reward yourself for your achievements, even if they may seem small.
- Try to find time to relax. This might feel difficult if you can\’t do anything to stop a situation that is making you feel stressed. But if you can allow yourself a short break, even if you are busy, this can help with how you feel. Our immersive spaces go a long way in assisting people to relax and escape reality, especially for those with special educational needs.
- Develop your interests and hobbies. Spending time on things you enjoy can help distract you from a stressful situation and improve your mood. If stress is making you feel lonely or isolated, shared hobbies can also be a good way to meet new people, who can then help to support you.
- Spend time in nature. This can help to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. Ideas for spending time in nature include going for walks in green spaces, taking care of indoor plants, or spending time with animals.
- Look after your physical health. Getting enough sleep, staying physically active and eating a balanced diet can make stress easier to manage. Stress can sometimes make these things difficult to look after. But even small changes can make a difference.
- Build your support network. Research shows that having a good support network can help to build resilience and make stress easier to manage.
However, if these recommendations do not help, then it’s important to speak to your GP to get extra support and advice.
Speaking to your GP
It might be useful to speak to your GP if:
- You are experiencing a lot of stress.
- You have felt stressed for a long time.
- Your feelings of stress are affecting your physical or mental health.
If stress is causing you physical health problems, your GP may run some tests to see how they can help manage the symptoms.
More in depth information on dealing with stress, as well as the signs and symptoms of stress, can be found on Mind’s website here.
For more information about Stress Awareness Month visit this website.