What is stress?
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person might not be to someone else.
Many of life’s demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and family problems. Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. Common signs of stress include sleeping problems sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating. It can make you feel irritable and low and you may have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more or act unreasonably.
Stress can also cause physical problems such as headaches, muscle tension or pain and dizziness.
Managing stress in daily life
Stress is not an illness itself, but it can lead to problems such as high blood pressure or poor mental health. This is can be made worse when someone tries to cope with stress by drinking or smoking or over eating comfort foods. Spotting the early signs of stress will help prevent it getting worse and potentially causing serious complications.
Often there is little you can do to prevent the causes of stress, but there are many things you can do to manage it more effectively, such as learning how to relax and taking regular exercise.
Studies have found that mindfulness courses, where participants are taught simple meditations across a series of weeks, can also help to reduce stress and improve mood.
When to see your GP about your stress levels
If you've tried self-help techniques and they aren't working, you should go to see your GP. They may suggest other coping techniques for you to try or recommend some form of counselling or support. If your stress is causing serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, you may need to take medication or further tests.
Further information and advice
Support and information is available on the NHS Choices website. This includes dealing with stress at work and when you have money problems. There are tips on how to deal with and avoid stress through trying to relax and taking regular exercise. You may also find the 10 stress busters helpful.
National Charity MIND How to Manage Stress
The Men’s Health Forum ‘Everyman’s Guide to mental Wellbeing – The Stress Busting Man Manual’
Local support and help
The Wellbeing College offers course and activities to help reduce stress http://wellbeingcollegebanes.co.uk/
The local talking therapies service provides free support if you are stressed or feeling down.
The BANES Council website provides links to other sources of help if you are experiencing mental health problems or emotional worries