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Stress Awareness Week 2021

01 Nov 21

International Stress Awareness Week was created in 2018 to raise awareness about stress prevention.

Stress is something that is very hard to describe, but we all know what it is when we feel it. Most of us feel stressed from time to time, it’s a natural response to lots of things, but usually the feeling passes, and things feel ok again.  Sometimes stress can be a good thing and can give us that extra boost of energy we need to get something done, but if stress is having a long-term negative impact, that’s where things can become problematic – and not just for our mental health, but our physical health too.

There are lots of different causes of stress, far too many to list, but here are some examples:

  • Difficulties at work
  • Lack of sleep
  • Increase in financial obligations
  • Emotional problems
  • Taking care of an elderly or sick family member
  • Trauma
  • Separating from a partner
  • Chronic illness or injury

How do I know if I’m  stressed?

Often, the first signs of stress are physical signs, such as tiredness, headaches or an upset stomach. These physical symptoms can be due to many things, because when we feel stressed we often find it hard to sleep or eat well, and poor diet and lack of sleep can both affect our physical health. This in turn can make us feel more stressed emotionally.

There are lots of different feelings associated with stress including:

  • Feeling irritable, aggressive, impatient, wound up or over-burdened
  • A heightened sense of anxiety or nervousness
  • Feeling afraid
  • Find it difficult to concentrate or focus your thoughts
  • unable to enjoy yourself
  • Depressed
  • Generally uninterested in life
  • like you've lost your sense of humour
  • a sense of dread
  • worried about your health
  • feel neglected or lonely

If you feel stressed but aren’t sure whether it’s a problem or not, the NHS has put together a really quick and simple online test for you to check – why not give that a go?

When we feel stressed, the body responds to what it thinks is a threat (sometimes called fight, flight or freeze) by releasing two hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. If a person is experiencing ongoing stress then their body will probably produce high levels of these hormones, which in turn can make them feel physically unwell and potentially affect their long-term physical health.

Ongoing stress can cause or exacerbate many serious health conditions including mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Physical health conditions can include cardiovascular disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and strokes.

HPFT has lots of help available if you feel you need some help with managing your stress or anything else that might be worrying you. For details about how you can refer yourself to our IAPT services please visit here, and if you’d like some general handy tips about what to do and how to manage your stress, then please visit the NHS website for more information

Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health, so please use Stress Awareness Week as a perfect opportunity to take the time to check in with yourself and the people you care about.

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