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Stress; you’ve probably heard of it, and may have even felt it, but what exactly is it? Stress is defined as being under too much mental or emotional pressure. When you’re stressed, hormones in your body increase to help your body deal with pressure, they return to normal once the pressure has passed. Being continuously under stress can have a very negative impact on your body and mind.

And as April is Stress Awareness Month, we wanted to share with you some information which might help you to manage your stress levels.

But first thing’s first, how do you know if you, or someone you know, is stressed? Sometimes, it’s not always obvious that someone is suffering from stress. Although there are physical signs of stress, those suffering from stress can often mentally feel/think and behave differently too – which can be much harder to identify.

Physical signs of stress:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Feeling tired or dizzy
  • Dry mouth
  • Shortness of breath

Mental signs of stress:

  • Worrying about the future
  • Being forgetful
  • Not concentrating
  • Feeling irritable
  • Making mistakes
  • Feeling low

Behavioural signs of stress:

  • Crying
  • Eating more or less
  • Biting your nails
  • Problems sleeping
  • Drinking or smoking more

Causes of stress

Identifying and understanding what’s causing you to be stressed, can help with finding a solution to manage and reduce it. Below are some common situations and events which may cause stress:

  • Money worries
  • Being bullied
  • Health issues
  • Not having a routine
  • Moving home
  • Having a job interview
  • Someone close to you passing away

Stress affects people in different ways, and some people may be more affected than others. For example, someone might put a lot of pressure on themselves because they should be able to do something, but they can’t.

Although worrying about a problem or situation isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it may actually help in planning to resolve and overcome an issue, more often than not, people tend to focus too much on the negatives. You may worry about things that might never happen or cannot be changed. This worry can lead to feeling stressed.

Stress and mental illness

If you’re suffering with a mental illness, this could lead to stress. Below are some examples of why this could be:

  • Spending too much money when you are unwell and you get into debt.
  • You don’t get on well with your doctor or anyone involved in your care
  • You are worried about the side effects of your medication

Stress alongside a mental health issue can make symptoms of your illness worse. If the cause of your stress is ongoing this could lead to anxiety and depression. To help forget about their stresses many people drink alcohol and take drugs as a short-term solution, but this can make your mental health a lot worse.

The above are just some of the signs, symptoms and causes of stress. If you’re suffering from stress, there are things you can do to positively respond to stress and help reduce your stress levels. Look out for our next blog post, as we’ll be looking at ways to keep your stress levels in check.