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How do I know I’m stressed?

We will all feel stressed at some point in our lives and at some times, stress can be a motivator for us to get things done. But how do we know when the balance has tipped and stress is causing us too much pressure and stopping us from doing what we need to?

We are all very different, so how stress affects each of us will be unique. However, here are some key things to look out for:

• Anxiety responses – rapid heart rate, thoughts racing, shaking, agitation
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Irritability and anger
• Finding it hard to concentrate
• Worrying
• Finding it hard to make decisions
• Procrastination
• Panic attacks
• Headaches
• Muscle pains
• Avoiding people or places
• Exhaustion
• Difficulty sleeping – this can be falling asleep or staying asleep
• Changes in your eating patterns
• Using substances to cope

If you find yourself experiencing these things, you may find some strategies that work for you such as making lists and prioritising tasks, delegating to other people, making sure to have some down time for yourself where you can switch off (e.g. by getting active), talking to other people about how you’re feeling, using mindfulness and breathing exercises to manage the physical symptoms of stress and realistic goal setting.

However, if even doing these things feels too much, it may be time to seek some support and speak with a psychologist who can work with you to find a way forward.