Stress – Spotting the signs and symptoms and how to help


Physical and mental signs of stress; spotting the signs

When you’re under a great deal of stress, you may find that you’re more emotional than usual, or get angry at the smallest things.

Here are some signs of stress to look out for in yourself (and others):

Anxiety or nervousness
Anger or irritability
Difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness
Depression or low mood
Fatigue Withdrawn mood
Feeling overwhelmed
Difficulty sleeping
Lack of confidence
Lack of motivation
A change in eating habits or appetite
An increase in alcohol or drug use

Stressed employee

Stress hormones also have an effect on your body too. Look out for some of these physical signs too:

Muscular tension
Tense jaw
Teeth grinding
Increased perspiration
Stomach ache
Increased blood pressure
Increased heart rate
Increased sweating
Dry mouth
Heart palpitations
More prone to infection
Skin rashes
Broken sleep

Lack of sleep and financial worries were the main causes of stress amongst UK adults. Other stressors include:

Being under lots of pressure
Not having much or any control over the outcome of a situation
During times of uncertainty
Facing big changes
Having responsibilities that you’re finding overwhelming
Worrying about something

If you’re feeling stressed today, try these 3 simple tips:

Get moving: Even a little regular exercise can help ease stress, boost your mood and energy, and improve your self-esteem. Aim for 30 minutes on most days, broken up into short 10-minute bursts if that’s easier.

Practice a relaxation technique: Take time to relax each day and give your mind a break from the constant worrying. Meditating, breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques are excellent ways to relieve stress and restore some balance to your life.

Don’t skimp on sleep: Feeling tired will only increase your stress and negative thought patterns. Finding ways to improve your sleep during this difficult time will help both your mind and body.

Try this muscle relaxation technique

This technique will help you recognise and manage muscle tension in any part of your body by selectively tensing then relaxing each area in turn.

Start by sitting or lying in a comfortable position where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes and spend one minute focusing on deep breathing through your nose and out through your mouth.

Every time you exhale gradually let your body relax and feel heavy.

Although you can use this technique with any tense area in your body, some focus areas are the muscles around your jaw and the back of your neck and shoulders.

Try squeezing your shoulders towards your ears for a few seconds feeling the tension and then, when exhaling, drop your shoulders down and feel the tension subside.

Repeat this 2-3 times and feel your neck and shoulder muscles relax and feel lighter.

How to support someone who is stressed

We’ve all experienced a friend or a loved one feeling stressed, but how can we best support them? Here are 4 ways you can show your support:

Help them to spot the signs.
It’s always easier to spot signs of stress in other people than it is for them to see it themselves. If you’ve noticed changes
in someone’s behaviour that suggests they’re feeling stressed, don’t let them bury their head in the sand over it. Try to reach out to them.

Offer practical support.
If there’s a specific issue that’s causing someone to feel stressed such as money worries, job loss or relationship problems, you may be able to help them find practical solutions that make the situation easier.

Often just knowing that somebody is there to listen can make a huge difference. You don’t always need to offer advice to your friend or loved one, just take the time to listen to them and remind them that you care.

Offer reassurance.

Try to remind your friend or loved one that this feeling won’t last forever. Reassure them that there are people they can talk to, and you are there for them no matter what.

Remember no one should suffer alone. We have included some support services below that you could share with your friend or loved one.
• For mental health support:
• Access support alongside your GP if you are struggling using NHS 111 or click on

• If you or someone you know is struggling with high stress, depression or suicidal thoughts, please call the Samaritans on 116 123. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or text SHOUT to 85258 in the UK to text with a trained crisis volunteer.

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