We all have to deal with pressure in our lives but sometimes pressure can develop into stress, and the effects can be long-lasting. Long-term or chronic stress is a serious problem that affects a large number of people. Learning to identify and deal with it could be crucial to your future health and well-being.

What is Stress?

Stress is a natural reaction to a threat or danger. It's your brain getting your body ready to run or fight, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, our brain can’t tell the difference between life and death situations and emotional threats. For many people, modern life is an almost continuous series of emotional pressures, and that can put your brain in permanent fight mode.

Recognising Stress

It’s essential to be able to spot the signs of stress, not just in yourself but in others too. These can be emotional or physical symptoms such as: 

Physical Symptoms

  • Chest pain and raised heartbeat
  • Nausea and upset stomach
  • Disturbed sleep or sleeping too much
  • Headaches
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent minor ailments

     Emotional Symptoms

    • Feeling unable to cope or overwhelmed
    • Irritability, moodiness and loss of temper
    • Depression
    • Loneliness
    • Anxiety
    • Worry
    • Low self-esteem
    • Thoughts of self-harm

     If you notice these symptoms or someone else spots them in you, take time to think about how stressed you are. Ignoring them will only lead to worse problems. Not solve the problem.


    Avoiding stress completely is virtually impossible. Whether it’s at work, at home, due to financial difficulties, tiredness or any number of other factors, we all get stressed at some point. Some people even thrive on a degree of stress but, if it goes too far, you may reach a point where it gets too much for you to cope with.

    Dealing with Stress

    There is a whole range of techniques to help you deal with stress before it becomes a severe problem:

    • Identifying the cause of your stress makes it easier to find a solution.
    • Talking to someone, whether colleagues, family or friends, really helps. You won’t feel so alone, and you’ll get other perspectives on your problems.
    • Finding time to relax and unwind is crucial to reducing the effects of stress.
    • Exercise is a great way to de-stress. It helps to get rid of all those stress making hormones and replaces them with ones that make you feel good.
    • Mindfulness meditation has helped many people reduce their stress levels. Phone apps are a good source of guided meditations you can use whenever you need them.
    • Sports and hobbies are effective because they require concentration and take your mind away from negative thoughts.
    • Achieving a balance in your life is critical. Don’t let work dominate your time at the expense of family, friends and finding time to relax.

    Don’t underestimate how damaging stress can be. Getting to grips with it before it gets a hold on you will save you from a lot of misery further down the line.