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.
Being prepared for periods of stress can make it easier to get through them. And knowing how to manage our wellbeing can help us recover after a stressful event. Some of us may refer to our ability to manage stress as our resilience.
There are things we can try to build our resilience against stress. But there are also factors that might make it harder to be resilient, such as experiencing discrimination or lacking support.
This page has information on:
The terms 'resilience' and 'managing stress' can mean different things to different people. We might understand them differently because our experiences shape how we feel stress, and how easily we can respond to it.
Some people may think that our response to stress is something that we can all easily control. But this is not true. There are some causes of stress that are beyond our control. And some ways of managing stress and building resilience are not always available to us.
This makes dealing with stress very personal – it may be harder for some of us than for others. Some experiences that can make it more difficult include:
Research shows that it is easier to develop resilience if we don't face these barriers. But many of these things are difficult or impossible to change.
Remember: if you face these barriers, this is not your fault. And it is not up to you to remove these barriers yourself.
“I believe that the root cause of my anxiety and stress was racism. This was further exacerbated by experiencing microaggressions at school and university.”
Taking care of your wellbeing can help you feel more able to manage stress. Different things will work for different people, but these are some ideas you could try:
See our pages on wellbeing for more tips to support yourself.
“My advice would be if you’re feeling stressed, be kind to yourself, everything starts with you.”
Research shows that having a good support network can help to build resilience and make stress easier to manage. Support from people you trust can make stressful situations easier to manage.
This support could include:
“The brain is like an engine; if you run it too hot all day, every day without checking the oil and water, it breaks.”
Working out what may trigger stress can help you prepare for it. Even if you can't avoid these situations, being prepared can help. Knowing what you can and cannot change could help you work out the best way to deal with stress.
Take some time to think about situations that might make you feel stressed. You could do this on your own or with someone you trust. You could consider:
Reflecting on these things may sometimes be upsetting. If remembering or talking about these experiences makes you feel worse, you can stop.
Our pages on trauma have more information on stressful or frightening events that may be difficult to talk about.
“I think it’s very important to acknowledge your feelings. Be honest with how you’re feeling. If you’re not happy in any situation, it’s okay to leave. It’s also okay to ask for help.”
Stressed about exams? We have info for young people to help you cope with exam stress at school or college
Some of us may feel stressed because we have a lot of things to manage in our lives. In this case, changing the way we organise our time can help us feel more in control.
If you think this may help, you could:
“I need to take on enough challenges to keep me interested and engaged with the world, but not too many to the point where I am exhausted.”
Sometimes, our stress might be caused or made worse by problems in our community, such as lack of access to services. Taking action against these problems can help how we feel in ourselves, as well as supporting others.
When we are very stressed, these things might not feel possible. And at any time, they might feel tiring or stressful themselves. But if you feel able to do so, some things you could try include:
There may be different areas of your life that make you feel stressed. Some of these might feel difficult to change on your own, or without support and advice on what to do next.
We have lots of information to help you find support in different areas of your life, including:
This information was published in March 2022. We will revise it in 2025.
References and bibliography available on request.
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