Could you spot the signs of stress?

According to the International Stress Management Association UK – charity and organiser of International Stress Awareness Day (November 1st, 2017) – stress is an unhealthy state of body or mind, or both.

And while it may not be an illness itself, it may lead to mental and/or physical ill health.

Stress is a common problem for many people. In 2015/16, it accounted for 37 percent of all work-related ill health cases and 45 percent of all working days lost due to ill health, says ISMA UK,.

But recognising stress isn’t always simple, especially if you’ve been living with it for so long that it has become normal for you. So how can you tell if you, or someone you live or work with, is affected by stress?

According to ISMA UK, people showing signs of stress will eventually become less productive and less effective in the workplace. But there are many other symptoms that suggest you may be under too much pressure, whether that pressure comes from yourself, work, home or all three – some of which aren’t obvious. Here is the charity’s checklist to look out for:

Psychological signs

  • Being unable to concentrate or make simple decisions
  • Memory lapses
  • Becoming vague and easily distracted
  • Being less intuitive and creative
  • Worrying unduly
  • Thinking negatively
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Being prone to accidents
  • Insomnia or waking up still feeling tired

Emotional signs

  • Tearfulness
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Being defensive or extra sensitive to criticism
  • Feeling out of control
  • Lack of motivation
  • Anger and/or frustration
  • Lack of confidence and/or self-esteem

Physical signs

  • Aches, pains, muscle tension/grinding teeth
  • Frequent colds/infections
  • Allergies/rashes/skin irritations
  • Digestive upsets (constipation/diarrhoea/IBS/indigestion/heartburn/ulcers)
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Hyperventilating/lump in the throat/pins and needles
  • Dizziness/palpitations
  • Panic attacks/nausea
  • Physical tiredness
  • Menstrual changes/loss of libido/sexual problems
  • Heart problems/high blood pressure

Behavioural signs

  • Not making time for relaxation or pleasurable activities
  • Increased reliance on alcohol, smoking, caffeine, recreational or illegal drugs
  • Becoming a workaholic
  • Poor time management and/or poor standards of work
  • Absenteeism
  • Self neglect/change in appearance
  • Social withdrawal
  • Relationship problems
  • Recklessness
  • Aggressive/anger outbursts
  • Nervousness
  • Telling lies uncharacteristically

There can be other causes of stress too, so check with your GP if you’re concerned or have a chat with your local Careway pharmacist, who will refer you to your doctor if necessary.

Your pharmacist can also help with some of the physical signs of stress, including digestive upsets, colds, aches and pains and allergy symptoms. They can suggest over-the-counter treatments to help relieve your symptoms – and offer help with quitting smoking if you need to give up – and at the same time offer lots of helpful advice on stress management.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.