Stress is the body’s direct response to overwhelming life pressures – once these life pressures reduce, so do the feelings of stress

Girl in school hall looking sad

Causes of stress

When the body is under stress it produces hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare the body to take urgent action – to fight or take flight – and in turn have a number of negative, health side-effects such as anxiety, depression, concentration problems, weight gain/loss, dizziness and sleep problems.

Dealing with stress

As people, when we feel stress we react differently. At times, we may feel like shouting and throwing things, but instead we withdraw, stop socialising and stop answering messages. Other times, when we may think we cannot cope, we may feel tearful but outwardly appear angry and behave aggressively. In younger children, changes in their behaviour (e.g. bedwetting, headaches, stomach upsets, sleep problems and refusing school) can indicate stress.

The difference between stress and anxiety: Anxiety is often one of the main symptoms of stress. Anxiety is a condition that continues long after the stressful situation has ended.

Stress management

  • Recognise triggers: Begin to track times where you have felt stressed and work out patterns in how you react: what was happening whilst you felt stressed? What did you think/feel/do just before you felt stressed? Who were you with? Is there anything you could have done differently to cope better?
  • Awareness: Once we are aware of difficulties likely to make us feel stressed then we can take steps to prevent stress or deal with it quickly.
  • Self-care: Be kind to yourself – stress is a human experience. Try to connect with friends or join a discussion board, talk about your stress, take an internet/social media detox, listen to music – enjoy/create a playlist, get outdoors and enjoy some natural light.
  • Exercise, relaxation/meditation: Some people find that exercises and activities such as meditation, breathing exercises and deep muscle relaxation are helpful.
  • Eat well and sleep: The better rested and nourished we are, the more able we are to cope with pressure. Lack of sleep and poor diet is a vicious cycle that can trigger and exacerbate stress.
  • Be aware of your personal limits: Be realistic about what you can commit to, ensure you manage your workload effectively, and if you are feeling burdened work out how others can help.
  • Talking therapy: If you are finding it difficult to cope, consider meeting with someone trained to help – this might include your GP and/or having talking therapy.

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  • Calm: Meditation and simple guided mindfulness to sleep, relax and breath for IOS and Android
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