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What is stress?

All of us experience stresses throughout our day without it presenting too much of an issue. A small amount of stress can be useful. It can motivate you to take action.

Some stresses become harder to deal with and as such you may feel under too much mental or emotional pressure. The causes of stress are many but can include:

  • Work related issues
  • Unemployment and money worries
  • Family and friends
  • Health concerns
  • Loss of a loved one

Though stress isn't officially a psychiatric diagnosis it is closely linked to our mental health. It can make existing conditions worse as it is closely associated with anxiety and depression.


Is stress a mental health problem?

If you often become overwhelmed by stress, these feelings could start to be a problem for you.

Stress can cause mental health problems, and make existing problems worse. For example, if you often struggle to manage feelings of stress, you might develop a mental health problem like anxiety or depression.
Mental health problems can cause stress. You might find coping with the day-to-day symptoms of your mental health problem.


What are the signs of stress?

Stress affects different people in different ways. Below is a list of some of the common signs.

Physical – headaches, sweating, stomach problems, muscle tension or pain, feeling tired or dizzy, sexual problems, bowel or bladder problems, dry mouth, short of breath.

Mental – worry about the future, imagining the worst, being forgetful, not concentrating, feeling irritable, racing thoughts, going over and over things in your mind, making mistakes, feeling low.

Behaviour – crying, eating more or less, biting your nails, avoiding others, sleep problems, rushing things, drinking or smoking more.  


How to reduce stress:

Talk to somebody – telling someone how you are feeling may help with stress. It can help to ‘offload’ your worries.

Become more active – physical activity can help relieve stress. It can also help you to stay healthy.

Eat a balanced diet – eating a healthy and balanced diet is good for your mental and physical health.

Get enough sleep – it can be frustrating not to be able to sleep. Sleep problems can have a big effect on us and can make mental health problems worse.

Limit your caffeine intake – coffee, tea, energy drinks and chocolate contain caffeine. Try to limit the amount of caffeine you have. Reducing your caffeine intake might also help you sleep better.


Use relaxation techniques:

Relaxation can help you to deal with stress you have. Some people relax using meditation, mindfulness, aromatherapy or yoga. 

If you're experiencing mental health problems or need support, there are lots of places you can go to for help.



Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)

Mind Infoline

Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday) or text 86463

Rethink Mental illness Advice Line

Telephone: 0300 5000 927 (9.30am - 4pm Monday to Friday)


The Mix (13-25 yrs.) 

Telephone: 0808 808 4994 (11am-11pm, free to call)

Crisis Support: Text 'THEMIX' to 85258

Telephone: 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm-10:30pm)


 Childline (0-18 yrs.)

 Telephone: 0800 1111 (free to call)