Explains what stress is, what might cause it and how it can affect you. Includes information about ways you can help yourself and how to get support.
Feelings of stress are normally triggered by things happening in your life which involve:
There might be one big thing causing you stress, but stress can also be caused by a build-up of small pressures. This might make it harder for you to identify what's making you feel stressed, or to explain it to other people.
"Lots of things stress me at the moment, mainly worries about my memory, as I'm a pensioner with nothing to do all day. Trying to fill my day is hard as I have arthritis so can’t walk too far."
The amount of stress you feel in different situations may depend on many factors such as:
We're all different, so a situation that doesn't bother you at all might cause someone else a lot of stress. For example, if you're feeling confident or usually enjoy public speaking, you might find that giving a speech in front of people feels comfortable and fun. But if you're feeling low or usually prefer not to be the centre of attention, this situation might cause you to experience signs of stress.
"I get stressed when things get out of perspective – too much work, thinking too far ahead."
Stress can be caused by a variety of different common life events, many of which are difficult to avoid. For example:
"My breakdown [...] was due to having a stressful job as a project manager and dealing with a marriage break up and subsequent divorce."
Some of the situations listed above are often thought of as happy events – for example, you might feel expected to be happy or excited about getting married or having a baby.
But because they can bring big changes or make unusual demands on you, they can still be very stressful. This can be particularly difficult to deal with, because you might feel there's additional pressure on you to be positive.
"I've never been more stressed in my life than the 6 months leading up to my wedding... everyone kept asking me if I was happy and expecting me to be excited all the time, but I just couldn't feel it. I ended up getting really ill."
This information was published in November 2017. We will revise it in 2020.
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