Stress, it’s a killer, we hear the message all the time, but what is it, how do I recognise it and what can I do about it?

Stress is a feeling you have when you face a situation you think you cannot manage. You can feel anxious, irritable, forgetful, sleepless and unable to cope.

Stress is a process, not a diagnosis. We experience stress when there is an imbalance between the demands being made on us and our resources to cope with these demands.

Stress affects us in many ways, including:

Emotionally – anxiety, depression, tension, anger.

The way we think – poor concentration, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, apathy, hopelessness

Behaviourally – increased drinking and smoking, insomnia, accident proneness, weight problems, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, nervousness, gambling.

Stress in the workplace is common and caused by many different factors, including excessive hours, conflict with others and feelings of isolation.

Your ability to tolerate stress also depends on many factors, including the quality of your relationships and support network, your life experiences, your emotional intelligence, and genetics.

There are many ways to deal with stress, once you understand the causes. A regular daily routine that includes a nutritious diet, exercise and regular sleep help as does the practice of relaxation activities, like reading, sitting outside, listening to music and spending time with people who care.

This is also when Counselling can really be of benefit, by professional support and gaining awareness around: what’s triggering you, your expectations in the moment, situations you can and can’t control.

Where to now? Well the first thing is to decide to take action – after all, you want things to change. Life’s not meant to be one long struggle, and stress by its nature will mean making a decision is compounding the very thing you are trying to relieve. Fear not, you have made the effort to find me here and now help is only a matter of a phone call away.