The month of April marks Stress Awareness Month.
According to the Mental health Foundation 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
Millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health concerns. Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems. Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us.
Being under pressure is a normal part of life. It can help you take action, feel more energised and get results. But if you often become overwhelmed by stress, these feelings could start to be a problem for you.
We all experience stress differently in different situations. Sometimes you might be able to tell right away when you're feeling under stress, but other times you might keep going without recognising the signs. Stress can affect you both emotionally and physically, and it can affect the way you behave.
How you might feel
irritable, aggressive, impatient or wound up
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 about your health
neglected or lonely
Some people who experience severe stress can sometimes have suicidal feelings. (See NMind's pages on how to cope with suicidal feelings for more information.)
How you might behave
finding it hard to make decisions
avoiding situations that are troubling you
snapping at people
biting your nails
picking at your skin
unable to concentrate
eating too much or too little
smoking or drinking alcohol more than usual
restless, like you can't sit still
being tearful or crying.
How you might be physically affected
shallow breathing or hyperventilating
you might have a panic attack
blurred eyesight or sore eyes
problems getting to sleep, staying asleep or having nightmares
sexual problems, such as losing interest in sex or being unable to enjoy sex
tired all the time
grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw
high blood pressure
indigestion or heartburn
constipation or diarrhoea
feeling sick, dizzy or fainting.
We're all different, so a situation that doesn't bother you at all might cause someone else a lot of stress. For example, if you're feeling confident or usually enjoy public speaking, you might find that giving a speech in front of people feels comfortable and fun. But if you're feeling low or usually prefer not to be the centre of attention, this situation might cause you to experience signs of stress.
For further reading take a look at our post on dealing with pressures and becoming more resilient.
To find out more about Stress Awareness Month ake a look at stress.org.uk to find out more, access further resources and take a stress levels test. https://www.stress.org.uk/national-stress-awareness-month-2019/
Find out more about stress and mental health via National Mind's website.