Stressed out? Everyday stress symptoms and signs

While work-related stress often takes centre stage, everyday life has its own challenges. These can be just as impactful, triggering similar stress responses that can impact our wellbeing. This article explores the causes, signs, and strategies for managing everyday stress.

Understanding stress

Stress is the worry and tension we feel when:

  • We are under pressure to do something and think we will fail.
  • The demands being made on us are greater than what we think we can cope with.
  • We are faced with a difficult or new situation.

When faced with a demanding or stressful situation, the body naturally reacts by activating the nervous system and releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones trigger various physical changes, equipping you to respond effectively to the challenge at hand. A little bit of stress is fine and can motivate us. However, if the stress persists and these physical changes become constant, you may start to feel overwhelmed and struggle to cope.

While we will all be stressed at some point, how we experience it will be different. What is stressful for one person can be a minor bump for someone else. And how we react to stress also varies from person to person.

 

Factors that can play a part in feeling stressed out include:

  • Health: Illness, injury, or caring for someone.
  • Relationship issues: Difficulties with family, partners, friends, or work colleagues.
  • Loss and change: Experiencing breakups, divorce, or bereavement.
  • Work: Job demands, long hours, difficult colleagues, career uncertainty, or job loss.
  • Money problems: Debt, financial pressures, or managing daily expenses.
  • Housing: Housing insecurity, poor living conditions, or homelessness.
  • Outlook and thoughts: Having unrealistic expectations, difficulty accepting uncertainty, lack of flexibility, or negative self-talk.
  • Life transitions: Starting a new job, retiring, or relocating – even happy events like a wedding or caring for a newborn can be stressful.
  • External events: Community-wide events like pandemics or natural disasters.

 

This list is not exhaustive, and everyone experiences stress differently. If you are struggling, seeking professional guidance or talking to a trusted friend or family member can be helpful.

 

The severity and length of the stress we experience can also be influenced by:

  • How the problem affects you
  • Whether or not you have any control
  • How long the stressful event lasts
  • How important the outcome is to you
  • Your past experiences
  • What else is going on at the same time
  • Your support network.

 

Common signs of being stressed out

Pay attention to warning signs that might reveal stress is taking a toll on your health and wellbeing:

  • Headaches and tense muscles
  • Upset stomach
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, indecisiveness
  • Irritable or angry
  • Constant worry
  • Drinking or smoking to cope
  • Changes in appetite
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Avoiding activities you once enjoyed
  • Feeling unable to cope
  • Experiencing burnout.

 

 How to manage stress symptoms

Everyone experiences stress. It is the way we respond to stress that can have an impact on our health and wellbeing. Here are some practical steps to help you manage stress effectively:

Identify the source: Write down what is causing you to feel stressed. Is it a single issue or a combination of factors? Prioritise them, addressing the most pressing first.

Develop a plan of action: Break down your challenges into smaller, manageable steps. Create a clear action plan focusing on one step at a time. Don’t hesitate to seek help when needed.

Challenge your inner critic: Recognise and address negative self-talk. Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your efforts, adjust unrealistic expectations, and extend the same compassion you would offer a friend in a similar situation.

Assess your coping mechanisms: Reflect on how you have been managing stress. What techniques have proven helpful? What needs adjusting? Be mindful of unhelpful coping mechanisms and seek healthier alternatives.

Talk it over: Sharing your concerns with a trusted friend or family member can provide a valuable perspective and help you explore potential solutions. If managing stress feels overwhelming, consider seeking professional help from a counsellor or psychologist. They can provide tailored strategies and guidance to equip you with better coping mechanisms. If you do not have a counsellor or psychologist, your first step may be calling a helpline like MensLine on 1300 78 99 78 or making an appointment to see your GP.

Prioritise self-care: Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well, exercising regularly, finding ways to relax, and getting sufficient sleep. These practices build resilience and promote overall wellbeing. Additionally, engage in activities you enjoy and nurture positive relationships.

Managing stress is a continuous process. Don’t hesitate to reach out for additional support if needed.

 

If you are feeling stressed and need to talk, give one of our MensLine Australia counsellors a call on 1300 78 99 78 or click on the floating chat button on the right to access online counselling. Our service is free.

 

If it is an emergency, please call 000.

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