The term stress has been around since the 1930s and is now a term that is widely used but perhaps not fully understood.
What causes stress?
It is our body’s automated response to pressure, commonly known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. The causes of stress can be complex and include: life events (e.g. taking care of a sick or elderly friend or family member, work pressures), chronic illness or injury, emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem, a traumatic event e.g.: being the victim of any sort of crime or a natural disaster.
What are the signs of stress?
It is important to consider how you are feeling so you can notice differences in how you might being thinking, your emotional state or any changes in your behaviours. Helpful things to be looking out for might include:
- Low mood
- Anxious feelings
- Physical health issues
- Anger, irritability, or restlessness
- Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Racing thoughts or constant worry
- Problems with your memory or concentration
- Making unhelpful or bad decisions
- Avoiding/not doing things you usually enjoy
How can we manage stress?
There are lots of ways to manage stress, assuming we can spot when stress is building up. However, some of the things we might end up doing can be unhelpful; such as drinking more alcohol, taking recreational drugs, smoking, a change in our eating and general self-care patterns. Some things we might do may be helpful in the short term but can become a problem longer term; such as ‘delaying things’ until you feel a bit better.
All of these options are very human and understandable, but ultimately the most effective way to deal with stress is to acknowledge it and work through its cause wherever possible and then its effects. Sometimes this is possible alone, or with the support of trusted friends, family or colleagues but sometimes you might need help which looks slightly different.
If you believe you might benefit from some free support via the NHS, because you cannot quite get to a place where you feel yourself again, please call NHS Oxfordshire Talking Therapies on 01865 901 222 or self-refer online.
NHS Oxfordshire Talking Therapies can give you a confidential space to think about what is going on for you and support you to feel better. We can offer you employment support if needed, and our service is trained to consider long term health conditions in any work we might do with you. Early support is crucial, so don’t wait to get in contact.
Published: 11 September 2022