Stress is something that everyone has experienced at some point in their life and for most people, stressful situations can be part of daily life. Some low level stress can be helpful or even motivational depending on the person or situation.
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. It’s very common, can be motivating to help us achieve things in our daily life, and can help us meet the demands of home, work and family life.
But too much stress can affect our mood, our body and our relationships – especially when it feels out of our control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable, and affect our self-esteem.
Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time can also lead to a feeling of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, often called burnout.
The tips on this page should help, but if you have been experiencing stress for some time and it’s affecting your daily life or causing you distress, you should consider seeking further support.
Top tips to deal with stress and burnout
- Split up big tasks – If a task seems overwhelming and difficult to start, try breaking it down into easier chunks, and give yourself credit for completing them.
- Allow yourself some positivity – Take time to think about the good things in your life. Each day, consider what went well and try to list 3 things you’re thankful for.
- Challenge your thoughts – The way we think affects the way we feel.
- Be more active – Being active can help you to burn off nervous energy. It will not make your stress disappear, but it can make it less intense.
- Talk to someone – Trusted friends, family and colleagues, or contacting a helpline, can help us when we are struggling.
- Plan ahead – Planning out any upcoming stressful days or events – a to-do list, the journey you need to do, things you need to take – can really help.
Signs of stress or burnout
If you are stressed, you may:
- feel overwhelmed
- have racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating
- be irritable
- feel constantly worried, anxious or scared
- feel a lack of self-confidence
- have trouble sleeping or feel tired all the time
- avoid things or people you are having problems with
- be eating more or less than usual
- drink or smoke more than usual
Possible causes of stress
Stress affects people differently, and the things that cause stress vary from person to person.
The level of stress you are comfortable with may be higher or lower than that of other people around you. Stressful feelings typically happen when we feel we do not have the resources to manage the challenges we face.
Pressure at work, school or home, illness, or difficult or sudden life events can all lead to stress.
Some possible causes of stress are:
- our individual genes, upbringing and experiences
- difficulties in our personal lives and relationships
- big or unexpected life changes, like moving house, having a baby or starting to care for someone
- money difficulties, like debt or struggling to afford daily essentials
- health issues, either for you or someone close to you
- pregnancy and children
- problems with housing, like the conditions, maintenance or tenancy
- a difficult or troubled work environment
- feeling lonely and unsupported
Please seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed or distressed, there are many helplines and charities available to give you guidance.
Samaritans – call: 116 123
Call 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment
Mind -0300 123 3393