What are the signs of stress?

We all experience stress differently in different situations. Sometimes you might be able to tell right away when you are feeling stressed, but other times you might keep going without recognising the signs. Stress can affect you both emotionally and physically, and it can affect the way you behave.

Common signs of stress:

How you might feel:

  • Irritable, aggressive, or impatient
  • Wound up
  • Overburdened
  • Anxious, nervous or afraid
  • As if your thoughts are racing and cannot switch them off
  • Neglected or lonely
  • Depressed
  • Uninterested in life
  • As if you have lost your sense of humour
  • A sense of dread
  • Worried about your health
  • Unable to enjoy yourself

How you might behave:

  • Finding it hard to make decisions
  • Avoiding situations that are troubling you
  • Snapping at people
  • Biting your nails
  • Picking at your skin
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol more than usual
  • Restless, as if you cannot sit still
  • Feeling tearful or crying

“My head is tight and all my thoughts are whizzing round in different directions and I can’t catch them.”

How you might be physically affected?

  • Shallow breathing or hyperventilating
  • You might have a panic attack
  • Blurred eyesight or sore eyes
  • Problems falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Constantly having nightmares
  • Sexual problems, such as losing interest in sex or being unable to enjoy sex

“[It feels like] the world is closing in on me, I can’t breathe and I’m running out of time.”

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