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Our serious injury team member, Gemma Racz, shares advice on how to manage stress. 

Stress manifests itself in many ways in response to difficult times in our daily lives.  You might feel under pressure at work or in your studies or there may be things going on in your home life making you feel anxious.  Relationships with family or friends, money worries, housing concerns or social factors are all things that can contribute to feeling overwhelmed.  It could be lots of little things that are niggling away at you, or it could be one big event that’s making you feel the pressure.  Whilst we can’t always avoid these situations, knowing what we can and can’t change can often help us work out the best way of dealing with the situation.

What is stress?

Stress is how we feel when we’re under pressure or when things are going on in our lives that we can’t control.  It affects our emotions and how we behave, and our bodies can react in lots of different ways. Sometimes it’s easy for us to recognise we are stressed, but on other occasions we might just keep going without recognising or accepting the signs.

Stress can cause many different physical and mental health problems, such as high blood pressure, muscle tightness, headaches, depression or anxiety so it is important to recognise the signs.

There are also many ways stress can change the way we behave.  It can be harder to concentrate or make decisions.  We may feel worried and anxious or angry.  We may also feel tearful and withdraw from the people who are close to us.

How to manage stress and when to seek help

Of course, people deal with stress in different ways and there is no easy fix unfortunately but there are steps you can take to help ease the burden.

Recognising the symptoms and understanding the causes are the most important first steps in dealing with stress and in taking care of our physical health and mental wellbeing.

Exercise, eating healthily, relaxing, doing something for fun, getting more sleep, avoiding alcohol are all things that can help. On a more practical level you could try writing down the causes of your stress; seeing if there are things you can pass on to someone else; sharing your feelings with someone you trust; learning how to say “no” and focusing on the things you can control.

While some amount of stress and anxiety in life is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern, it’s important to recognise when these feelings are having a negative impact and when it might be a good idea to seek help.

If feelings of stress linger for a long time, it is difficult to see a way through or your feelings of stress are affecting your physical or mental health, your GP can offer advice in relation to therapies and/or medication.