Recognising the Signs of Stress and Anxiety and How to Cope
Posted on 15th April 2021 at 20:12
There are often similarities and common symptoms for particular mental states including stress and anxiety. We take you through them as well as ways to cope.
We are unique individuals who experience the world we live in and the situations it throws at us differently. What manner and how deeply we feel emotions, including stressful situations is distinct to each and every one of us. However, there are often similarities and common symptoms for particular mental states including stress and anxiety.
Often, we recognise these signs straight away and immediately know a situation is stressful and causing us discomfort. Sometimes however we can continue to function through these symptoms, which is where regular self-assessment becomes helpful to decide whether to practice coping strategies and self-care.
Signs of stress and anxiety can be categorised into emotional: those we think, behavioural: those we act and physical: those we physically feel. Consult our list of the frequent symptoms of stress and anxiety to see if you identify with any of them.
Signs of Stress and Anxiety
Feeling anxious, nervous or worried
Having racing thoughts and difficulty switching off
Disinterested in things or activities which are usually pleasurable
Feeling lonely and isolated
Difficulty in making decisions
Avoidance behaviour – from problems or conflict
Biting nails or skin
Changes in appetite; eating too much or too little
Self-medicating with smoking, alcohol or drugs
Restlessness, difficulty concentrating
Being tearful; crying often
Unusual breathing or hyperventilating
Panic or anxiety attacks
Blurred vision, sore eyes
Changes in libido such as losing interest in sex
Feeling tired or lethargic
Teeth grinding or jaw clenching
Headaches or migraines
Feeling sick, dizzy or light headed
Coping Strategies for Stress and Anxiety
Once you’ve acknowledged and understood you may be suffering or experiencing some of the prevalent signs of stress and anxiety you can begin to make steps to cope with your situation and alleviate some of these discomforts.
Look After Yourself
This may sound obvious, but often it’s the basics which slip first. It’s important we are eating a healthy diet as well as getting enough sleep. It’s also a good idea for us to lay off smoking, alcohol and drugs as these substances more than not exasperate symptoms of stress and anxiety. Exercise is a great way to release stress and top up our endorphin levels (not to mention the benefits of fresh air and vitamin D sunshine!) It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous – a simple walk in the park can really help to clear the head.
Certainly, a phrase we are hearing more often and with good reason. Don’t be put off by the buzz phrase - making time for ourselves is anything but selfish when we’re in real need of it. Self-care activities like taking a long hot soak in the bath or having a duvet day with our favourite box set will do wonders in bringing down our overall stress levels. There’s a time and place for self-indulgence and when feeling anxious or stressed, is it!
Our support networks are invaluable sources of advice and strength. Friends, family, colleagues, neighbour... we know who they are. Talking to those we can trust is a great way to discharge our worries – making us feel lighter as a result. Some of us want to talk about our stressful experiences, whereas others don’t, but time spent with the ones we love is sure to lift our spirits in most circumstances.
Letting It All Out
It’s important to recognise that sometimes we just need to let it all out. For some that’s a good cry – crying is a great way to dispense of mental pressure. For others this might be a good long chat with a friend, putting the world to rights! Anger and aggression are often bi-products of being stressed or anxious; singing on the top of our voice, screaming into a pillow, taking part in a boxing class or a good run – a befitting physical release of tensions will in turn benefit on our minds.
Taking a Step Back
The expression ‘stop and count to ten’ has its truths. Take a moment (or more) to focus on the internal experience rather than the external distraction of the current stressful situation. A spot of logical thinking may be needed; being non-judgmental and coherent will help us to make sense of things.
Understanding What’s in Our Control
Many of us spend far too much time worrying about the things we cannot control. What others think, how they might behave for example. It can be really liberating to understand what, as an individual we can and cannot control. We’re then in a position where we know our power and the realistic impact we can have on our circumstances. Getting organised can be a great way to do this, making lists and breaking down problems into more manageable chunks or tasks.
Being one of a kind, we will all have related to different symptoms of stress and anxiety and will be able to see how our suggested coping strategies could work for us. Of course, these may change too from situation to situation and be dependent on our other life experiences and circumstances. Functioning through signs of anxiety or stress can be detrimental in the long term, so use our list for routine evaluation of your mental wellbeing through from day-to-day pressures right to more considerable life changes and events.
Our relationship with ourself is the most important relationship we have and if you’re feeling the strain of stress or anxiety is getting too much, we are here to help. Our individual counselling sessions with a highly qualified and immensely experienced professional counsellor can support you in recognising the signs of stress and anxiety, help you deal with the symptoms and offer advice on coping strategies and tools that are unique to you. Call us today on 0115 958 4278 to book your free 30 minute session.
Work can be a common cause of stress for many people. We also offer mental health first aid at work training to companies and organisations. We have recently developed a 2–3 hour online webinar for employers, so that they can better support their employees in understanding stress and strain at work. For more details email or call our Nottingham office.
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