What is stress?
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Many of life’s demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. And, when you feel stressed, it can get in the way of sorting out these demands, or can even affect everything you do. Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats – the so-called “fight or flight” response. Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal. However, if you’re constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to the symptoms of stress. Some stress can be positive; with research showing that moderate levels of stress can improve performance. It also makes us more alert and can help us perform better in situations such as job interviews or public speaking. Stressful situations can also be exhilarating and some people actually thrive on the excitement that comes with dangerous sports or other high-risk activities.
Effects of stress
Stress causes physical changes in the body designed to help you take on threats or difficulties. You may notice that your heart pounds, your breathing quickens, your muscles tense, and you start to sweat. This is sometimes known as the fight or flight response. Once the threat or difficulty passes, these physical effects usually fade.
How you may feel emotionally
How you may feel mentally
How you may feel physically
How to tackle stress
You can’t always prevent stress, but there are lots of things you can do to manage stress better.
- try these 10 simple stress busters
- use these easy time-management techniques
- try mindfulness – studies have found mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve your mood
- use calming breathing exercises
- download some relaxation and mindfulness apps on to your phone
- listen to an anxiety control audio guide
- try to obtain a good work / life balance – it is not only important for your personal health and relationships, but it can also improve the efficiency of your work performance
Other things that may help:
- share your problems with family or friends
- make more time for your interests and hobbies
- take a break or holiday
- take some regular exercise and make sure you’re eating healthily
- make sure you’re getting enough sleep (see tips on better sleep)
When to see your GP about stress
If you’ve tried self-help techniques and they aren’t working, see your GP. There are lots of other options open to you, such as guided self-help or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
You may be able to attend a stress management course. Ask your GP or refer yourself to your local psychological therapies (IAPT) services.
For information regarding support services please click here;
Alternatively refer to the University’s Managing Stress and Promoting Wellbeing at Work policy or visit the NHS Moodzone website.