Stress is a normal reaction to certain tasks or events in our lives, which happens automatically in our bodies. However, when stress gets too much and goes on for too long it stops being helpful to us, eventually this can become a risk to our mental health.
Stress can build up without us really noticing, so it is important to look out for early signs that things are getting too much or starting to feel out of control, then we can take steps to reduce it and find some healthy ways to cope.
Signs of too much stress include:
- Feeling under pressure or overwhelmed all the time
- Feeling you can’t cope
- Feeling tense, anxious or panicky all the time
- Feeling low, irritable, moody or ‘burned out’
- Losing your temper lot
- Finding it hard to concentrate or make decisions
- Blocking out difficult feelings by using drugs or alcohol
Stress can also give you physical symptoms, you might:
- Have lots of headaches, stomach aches or muscle pains
- Feel sick, dizzy or light headed
- Have a racing heart or shaky hands
- Feel exhausted and run down
- Lose your appetite, or only feel like eating sugary, fatty foods
- Find it hard to sleep
- Get lots of colds, coughs, cold sores, mouth ulcers or infections.
Stress is a normal response to certain tasks, pressures or events in our lives, causing a reaction in our bodies and our minds. You may have heard of the ‘fight or flight response’ – this is when your body gets a surge of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which make you more alert and ready to react – it is very useful when we are threatened or in danger and need to run away from a bear, or rescue someone from a burning building! However, when this reaction occurs regularly in situations where there is no real physical threat it can start to have a negative impact on both our mental and physical health.
Watch our video ‘World of Science’ for an alternative perspective on ‘fight or flight’.