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Conditions: Stress

What do we mean by stress?

We all know what it can feel like to be stressed, however, it is not always easy to define what stress is.

In general, situations, events and circumstances that exert pressure on us and make us feel that we do not have much control over what happens can lead to us feeling stressed. When we are placed under pressure and various demands are put on us, we may feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to cope. Your personal definition of stress may be different but whatever the definition, it's likely that you can learn to manage your stress better and in a more constructive way and therefore enhance your overall resilience. At times, we also feel stressed because we may have high or unrealistic expectations that we place on ourselves, and we can be critical of ourselves and how we feel we are coping. In that respect, stress can be alleviated when we begin to be kinder and more compassionate with ourselves and when we learn to accept that being impacted by difficult events is natural and understandable and it is not a sign of weakness.

Thus, being under pressure and feeling stressed is part of life. However, feeling stressed (especially acutely or chronically) can become a problem as it can lead to the development of anxiety or depression, for example, or can make existing difficulties worse. However, dealing with your existing difficulties or mental health problems can also cause extra stress and this can become a vicious circle that you may feel trapped in. If you're often stressed, then you're probably producing high levels of specific hormones, which can make you feel physically unwell and could affect your health in the longer term.

Stress can impact people in different ways but below are some common symptoms of stress and signs that you may need to seek help.

When to seek help?

When you experience emotional difficulties such as:

  • Being irritable, aggressive, impatient, or wound up over-burdened

  • Felling anxious, nervous, or afraid, like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off

  • Being unable to enjoy yourself

  • Feeling depressedBeing uninterested in life

  • Feeling like you've lost your sense of humour

  • Feeling a sense of dread

  • Being worried about your health

  • Feeling neglected or lonely

When your behaviour is impacted and you:

  • are finding it hard to make decisions

  • are constantly worrying

  • are avoiding situations that are troubling you

  • are more likely to snap at people

  • are biting your nails or picking at your skin

  • are unable to focus and concentrate

  • are eating too much or too little

  • are smoking or drinking alcohol more than usual

  • are restless and agitated

  • are being tearful or crying

When your physical health is affected and you:

  • experience shallow breathing or hyperventilating

  • might have a panic attack

  • experience muscle tension

  • have blurred eyesight or sore eyes

  • have problems with sleep

  • experience sexual problems, such as losing interest in sex or being unable to enjoy sex

  • feel tired and low in energy all the time

  • are grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw

  • have headaches

  • have chest pains

  • have high blood pressure

  • have indigestion or heartburn

  • experience constipation or diarrhoea

  • are feeling sick, dizzy or faint

Treatment recommendations

Psychological therapy and counselling can help you learn to deal with stress and become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings. There is a wide range of therapies as well as self-help resources that can help you manage stress more effectively. The selected treatment would be individually tailored to your needs following a comprehensive assessment process in our service.

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