Understanding Stress


What is Stress?

We will all suffer from stress at some time in our lives, in fact low levels of stress can help us be more productive even helping us push through fear or pain.  This is fine in the short-term but if we continue to feel stressed for long periods of time or suffer high levels of stress, it can have a negative impact on our lives and physical health.  Stress is our bodies way of dealing with difficult situations where we might feel under pressure or threat, feel unable to cope, manage or gain control of the situation.


Stress can be caused by many different things but generally it tends to be the result of something that leaves us feeling overwhelmed, like a major lifestyle change.

This can include things like, illness, money worries, bereavement, the break-up of a relationship, family problems, job loss or moving home.  The reasons can be different for different people, as can their symptoms or the way they deal with it.

Physical Symptoms

·      Chest Pain

·      Rapid heartbeat or palpitations

·      Headaches or dizziness

·      Muscle aches and pains

·      Sweating

·      Stomach issues

·      Nausea

·      Indigestion

·      Constipation or diarrhoea

·      Hyperventalating, shallow breathing or difficulty breathing

·      Difficulties sleeping

·      Irritability or angry outbursts

·      Fatigue

·      Changes in your sex drive

·      Changes to your menstrual cycle

·      Blurred vision or sore eyes

·      Rashes or itchy skin

·      Worsening symptoms to already existing medical conditions

Psychological Symptoms

·      Anxiety

·      Panic attacks

·      Depression

·      Feeling of sadness

·      Restlessness

·      Feeling overwhelmed

·      Lacking motivation or focus

·      Nail biting

Behavioural Changes

·      Being less sociable

·      Drinking alcohol

·      Using recreational drugs

·      Crying

·      Smoking

·      Exercising less often

·      Taking recreational drugs

·      Eating more or loss of appetite

Self Help

The internet is full of information that can help you manage your stress levels, there are several organisations who can help you or provide you with practical information.  They might recommend things like relaxation techniques, these could include breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, aromatherapy or Tai Chi.  A healthy diet, regular exercise and avoiding things like smoking, drinking alcohol and using recreational drugs will all help to reduce your stress levels.

Professional Help

If you are feeling stressed to the point it’s having a negative impact on your daily life, you should always consult your doctor to ensure that it is not caused by any previously undiagnosed health condition.  Whilst there are no specific medications for stress, your doctor can prescribe medications for related conditions such as anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants or sleeping tablets for anxiety, depression or insomnia.  They may even prescribe medication for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or high blood pressure if you’re found to be suffering from either condition. 

They can also recommend that you see a therapist who provides talking therapies like, counselling, psychotherapy or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).  Therapy can help you to recognise what causes your stress, how to develop coping strategies and to change the way you think about stressful situations.  It can also help you deal with related issues like anxiety, depression and panic attacks.  Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK).  For more free information click above link.