Physical symptoms such as clenched jaw, headaches, shortness of breath, feeling hyperalert, poor quality sleep, can all be signs of stress. It is a response to a real or perceived threat – the body’s automatic reaction to prepare for 'fight' or ‘flight.’ When stress becomes too much, it impacts one’s ability to function and can become self perpetuating. Talking through issues can help manage these responses.
It is important to remember that feeling stressed is a normal response when things get busy.
The Stress Management Society explains that stress manifests in four main ways:
Many people manage stress by using techniques that work for them, including talking to friends, doing exercise or meditating. However, if stress becomes all consuming and affects a person’s ability to function either at work or within relationships, they may need to seek help and talk to either a therapist or a doctor.
Stress symptoms that might someone to seek help include:
This structured type of counselling teaches specific skills to manage behaviour and change negative thinking patterns into positive ones.
Other types of therapy are also useful and can help people better manage their responses to situations. See our resource about different types of therapy to better understand the many different approaches.
This organisation has a test for stress, and practical tips on coping with stressful periods.
The UK’s leading charity for anxiety has good advice on coping with panic attacks, and a helpline for people who need support to cope with stress and anxiety.