How stress can affect our emotions and our health

What is stress?

If you feel overloaded by demands being placed on you, or your reaction to being put under pressure is to feel upset, worried or unable to cope, you might describe yourself as feeling stressed.

Stress is not an illness, but according to the Health and Safety Executive, in 2015/16 over 480,000 people in the UK reported that work-related stress was making them ill - this may mean they developed mental health problems like anxiety or depression or physical health conditions like stomach problems, back pain, heart disease or skin conditions as a result of stress.

Stress is not a weakness and no one should feel they will be judged if they admit they are struggling dealing with stress. Stress can affect anybody and if you are feeling stressed and would like to learn how to deal with stress, Able Futures could help you. Apply now for support to cope with stress from Able Futures.

 

Stress illustration

 

What can cause stress?

Financial problems, personal relationship issues, moving house, mental health issues or difficulties at work can all make us feel stressed.

To help you be ready to respond to situations that can seem threatening or stressful your body will make physical adjustments. It might release hormones to increase your heart rate or boost your blood pressure or stop your digestion so that you can “fight or flight”. But these responses should only last a few minutes and problems can arise when you experience feelings of heightened stress for long periods of time and your body is constantly behaving in a way to help you fight back, because this can make your feelings of stress worse.

When you are stressed it can feel like you are caught in a loop, and everything that happens to you makes you feel more stressed. For example, you might be worried about a piece of work you have to complete and you can’t stop thinking about it, so you don’t sleep well and then the physical effects of tiredness begin to make you feel anxious your health and you can’t concentrate very well on the work you have to complete and your worries stop you sleeping again. What was once an acute, short-term stressful experience at work, could become a period of chronic long-term stress.

Get more ideas about how to stop feeling stressed by applying for Able Futures.

Learn to cope better with stress

There are some small things you can do to lessen the impact of stress on your mind and on your body.

The next time you notice you are feeling bad because of stress, pause and take a few deep breaths. It helps.

To help you cope with stress on a longer-term basis you might want to try relaxation techniques, time management tools or learn ways of thinking about things you do not have much control over. They could all help you to manage pressures that can seem overwhelming and stressful. You could also learn ways to develop your emotional resilience so that you do not suffer the effects of stressful situations so often.

Learning to recognise symptoms of stress – clenched teeth, headaches, low mood, an upset stomach or insomnia could all indicate stress – and understand what causes you to feel stressed can mean you can identify opportunities to break the cycle of mental and physical responses and help you cope better. Find out how you could learn to manage your stress better with the help of a mental health professional through Able Futures.

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Access to Work Mental Health Support Service: Freephone 0800 321 3137