Stress Awareness Month: Identifying signs of stress

Stress Awareness Month: Identifying signs of stress

7 April 2022

By Dominic Cerillo

At some point in the last year, 74% of us have felt so stressed that we have felt unable to cope. And 65% have felt even more stressed since the pandemic began. Just because you are not prone to long term stress doesn’t mean you’re immune – short term life or work events or issues can cause stress for anyone.

A small amount of stress can be useful. It can motivate us to take action and get tasks done. It can make us feel alive and excited. But too much stress can cause negative effects such as a change in your mood, your body and your relationships with others. It can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression or make existing problems worse.

The aim of Stress Awareness Month is to help people identify signs of stress, when they might be suffering from those symptoms and how to help themselves cope/manage those symptoms better. The theme of this year’s Stress Awareness Month is Community to reinforce just how important it is that, as we emerge from the pandemic, the community support experienced by many people during this challenging time continues. Although restrictions have mainly been lifted, people need support now more than ever as we adjust to a new way of living. Find out more about how to get involved at .

How can I tell if I might be suffering from stress?

You may be suffering from stress if you:

  • Feel under lots of pressure
  • Face big changes in your life
  • Are worried about something
  • Don’t have much or any control over the outcome of a situation
  • Have responsibilities that you find overwhelming
  • Don’t have enough work, activities or change in your life
  • Experience discrimination, hate or abuse
  • Are going through a period of uncertainty.

It is difficult to offer generalised advice on how to help identify signs of stress because the causes of stress can be so very different from one person to another. Some situations that don’t bother you at all might cause someone else a lot of stress. This is because we are all influenced by different experiences. We also have different levels of support and ways of coping.

Certain events might also make you feel stressed sometimes, but not every time. For example, if you go shopping for food with enough time and money, you may not feel stressed. But you might feel stressed if you have lots of other things to do, have a tight budget, particularly as the cost of living is rising, or need to buy food for a big occasion.

How stressed you feel in different situations may depend on factors like:

  • How comfortable you feel in certain types of situation
  • What else you are going through at the time
  • Your past experiences and how these affect the way you feel about yourself
  • The resources you have available to you, such as time and money
  • The amount of support you have from other people

“I get stressed when things get out of perspective – too much work, thinking too far ahead.”

The signs of stress can be emotional, behavioural or physical.

You can see if you have any of these symptoms at .

The Stress Management Society has also put together a short individual stress test to help you identify just how stressed you might be

Is stress a mental health problem?

Stress is not normally considered a mental health problem. But it is connected to our mental health in several ways:

  • Stress can cause mental health problems. And it can make existing problems worse. For example, if you experience lots of stress, this might lead you to develop a mental health problem like anxiety or depression. Or a traumatic period of stress might lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Mental health problems can cause stress. You might find coping with the day-to-day symptoms of your mental health problem is stressful. You may also feel stressed about managing medication, healthcare appointments or other treatments.
  • You might use recreational drugs or alcohol to cope with stress. This could also affect your mental health and cause further stress.

Stress and worry is best helped by talking to others, be it with family or friends or through group get togethers at MindSpace, where many of our volunteers are trained listeners. Come along to a Tea & Chat session or one of our evening groups. You can find out more by clicking on this link