What is stress?
Everyone will experience some form of stress within their lifetime. People respond differently to stressful situations and not everyone will experience the same level of stress in the same situation.
When faced with a challenging situation or stressful event, our bodies respond by activating the nervous system and releasing hormones including cortisol and adrenalin.
These hormones bring about certain physical changes in the body, helping us to react appropriately and deal with the challenge presented. However, if the stress is ongoing and the physical changes do not subside, we may feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.
Life pressures that can cause us to feel overwhelmed and stressed include:
- Relationship difficulties
- Family breakdown
- Illness or injury
- Work pressures or job loss
- Bullying and harassment
- Traumatic events
- Death of a loved one - including pets
- Financial difficulties
- Lack of support and isolation.
What are the signs of stress?
When faced with a challenging situation or stressful event our bodies release stress hormones. These create physical changes in the body, which help us cope with the immediate situation. However, if the stress is ongoing and the physical changes do not subside, we may feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.
Knowing yourself and how you respond to different situations can help you learn what works for you in terms of managing stress.
There are some signs to look out for which indicate our stress levels are negatively affecting our mental health and wellbeing:
- Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope
- Feeling ‘on edge’ or unable to stop worrying
- Changes in sleep patterns, fatigue and exhaustion
- Changes in appetite
- Physical reactions such as headaches, muscle tension, upset stomach,
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in mood, irritability, anger
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Reliance on alcohol or other substances to cope
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.