What is stress?

Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress

Stress is a physical and emotional condition, which can affect our mind, body and health. It’s a natural response to situations and challenges we meet and have to face in life.

Meeting targets or deadlines and carrying out the many things we have to juggle at home and work, can make everyone feel stressed, but sometimes it can feel just too much to cope with.

What are the symptoms of stress?

When we’re stressed, our bodies are release a hormone, cortisol, which triggers our natural ‘flight or fight’ response. Usually these stress feelings go away, when a task or a busy day is complete. Problem-solving, or doing things we enjoy – can help us relax and those stressful feelings to dissipate.

Stress can affect your wellbeing when the pressure and anxiety doesn’t go away and builds up, instead.

Modern life can make it very difficult to switch off from the unfinished business preoccupying our thoughts – financial worries, work or school days ahead, workloads, difficult relationships, social media, or family problems that are difficult to solve.

When we’re stressed, stress hormone cortisol triggers our natural ‘flight or fight’ response. Everyone’s stress responses can differ – with headaches, difficulty sleeping, tearfulness, anger, loss of appetite and feeling on edge among common stress symptoms.

Over a long period, cortisol can build up in our body and affect sleep-patterns, concentration, the sense of your usual self, or ability to work things out. You may feel sad, irritable, hopeless or a combination of these things. Stress can lead to anxiety and depression and in the longer term, also impact upon our body’s health

Help and support with stress

Ordering daily tasks at work or home according to importance and into manageable sizes, may be a help with stress if you are overwhelmed by the feeling that everything needs doing – and you don’t know where to start, or how to stop worrying.

Exercise can also help counter the flight-or-fight tension of stress, reducing cortisol levels in your body. Guided meditation, mindfulness and yoga can help you learn techniques to switch off from stressful thoughts.

Stress doesn’t always go away though, even when you feel you’ve resolved a problem or challenge, so it can be helpful to talk about how you’re feeling and coping.

If stress is affecting your home or work life, talk to your GP. They may advise medication if stress is making you feel anxious or depressed, or a talking therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

If you’re struggling to cope with stress or feel alone, you can turn to us. At Make a Difference, everyone’s mental health is valued. If it would help to have a friendly ear, we’re here for you.

You don’t need a diagnosis, referral or appointment to access mental wellbeing support and friendship at Make a Difference.

Moodgym for stress at Trident House

Make a Difference offers free access to Moodgym, an interactive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) coaching programme to help people manage the symptoms of stress, as well as depression and anxiety.

Drop into Trident House to find out more about Moodgym and for a free token to begin the online programme.