Stress management

Stress is how your body reacts to tough situations. It can affect you physically, emotionally, or mentally. A little bit of stress can actually be helpful and is a normal part of life. Whether it’s a job interview, a test, or just everyday stuff, we’ve all felt stressed at some point. Short-term stress can be good because it can motivate you to tackle problems and deal with pressure. It can help you work hard and react quickly, like finishing a big project on time.

But when stress gets out of hand, it becomes a problem. It’s normal to feel stressed and anxious sometimes, but it’s not healthy to feel worried all the time or like stress is taking over your life. Long-term stress happens when stressful situations or events keep going. Things like ongoing health problems, continuous issues at work or family conflicts can cause long-term stress, which can be harmful to your health. When we experience too much stress out mental health and emotional well-being can be badly affected.

What happens when you are stressed?

Stress is a part of life for most people but it affects everyone differently. What stresses you out might not bother someone else. Only you can figure out if you have too much stress in your life. If you think you’re dealing with too much stress, check out these symptoms:

  • Physical Reactions: You might get headaches, stomach problems, sweaty hands, feel dizzy or faint.
  • Feeling Run Down: You might feel tired all the time, have trouble concentrating or have problems sleeping.
  • Changes in Habits: You might start drinking or smoking more, eating too much or not enough.
  • Constant Worry: You might feel worried all the time or feel disconnected from reality.

If any of these sound familiar, it might be time to find ways to manage your stress.

Coping with stress

Everyone experiences stress, and sometimes that stress can feel overwhelming. It’s important to know what helps you on tough days and know when to get help. Being ready for stressful times can make them easier to handle. Knowing how to look after yourself can help you bounce back afterward. Managing stress is a big part of staying mentally well. You can control some things that cause stress but it’s unrealistic to think that you can get rid of all stress from your life. Learning how to manage stress so it doesn’t control you will help you feel better at home, school, work and with friends.

Taking care of your well-being isn’t always easy, and it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some ideas to help you manage stress. These tips won’t make all the stress go away, but they can help you deal with it better. Everyone is different, so try these suggestions to see what works for you. It might take some trial and error to find the best methods.

  • Organise your time

Some of us may feel stressed when we have a lot going on. Make a list of all the things that are bothering you. Split the list into things you can do something about (like homework or assignments) and the things you can’t control (like friends fighting).

  • Things you can do something about

List everything you need to do. Decide what’s the most important or urgent and tackle that first. Then move on to the next thing in turn. Remember, it’s not the end of the world if you miss a deadline or fall behind a bit!

  • Things you can’t control

No matter the problem, there’s always someone who can help. Talk to someone you trust. They might have a good idea, or maybe not. But at least you’ll feel better having talked about it.

  • Setting smaller, achievable targets

When you’re stressed, big or unrealistic goals can make things worse if you can’t reach them. Instead, try setting smaller, achievable goals. This can make you feel more satisfied.

  • Focus on things you can control

With a disability, you might need extra support for certain things, and it can be frustrating when some things are out of your control. Feeling out of control is a major cause of stress. When you believe you can’t do anything about a problem, your stress can get worse. Remember, you can’t always change tough situations. Instead, focus on what you can control—it’s a big step toward finding solutions.

  • Be active

Being active is a great way to boost your mood, even if it feels like the last thing you want to do. Activity won’t erase all your stress, but it helps your body release built-up tension and endorphins, which make you feel good. This can reduce how overwhelmed you feel, clear your mind, and help you approach problems calmly. Being active doesn’t mean you have to join a gym. Find ways to be active every day by starting small with activities you enjoy that fit your lifestyle and level of mobility and fitness.

  • Eat Healthily

What you eat has a big impact on your mood and how you feel. Foods that are good or bad for your physical health also affect your mental health and emotional well-being. Eating a lot of sugary and junk foods can make you irritable and anxious. Eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and fish can boost your mood. Always start your day with breakfast, avoid skipping meals, and drink plenty of water.

  • Get enough sleep

Sleep is super important. Not getting enough can mess with your mood, decision-making, and concentration at school. When you’re stressed, sleep is often the first thing to suffer. To get a good night’s sleep, try doing something calming before bed, like taking a hot bath or listening to relaxing music. Stick to a sleep routine, and make sure you’re getting enough rest.

  • Limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs

Caffeine is a stimulant which might make you feel more alert in the short term but can increase anxiety if you drink too much of it. Many people use alcohol as a way to relax when they are stressed, but it can make your mood worse as it is a depressant. Taking drugs like cannabis can also increase your risk of experiencing a mental illness.

  • Take notice

Be present in the moment – pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. Being aware of what’s happening and how you feel can help you appreciate things more. Enjoying short moments of happiness, spending time with loved ones, and noticing nature’s changes can have a bigger impact when you take the time to savour and observe them.

  • Connect

Spend time with people who make you feel good. Whether it’s family, friends, colleagues, or members of your community, connecting with them—whether through quick chats, visits, or calls—can lift your mood each day. Building and maintaining these relationships helps us feel happier and more grounded, giving us a stronger sense of purpose.

  • Keep learning

Have you ever wanted to take up a new hobby or rediscover an older interest? Setting yourself a new challenge and learning a new skill will increase your confidence which can improve your mental health and wellbeing.

  • Give

Giving to others has a positive effect on the way you feel. Doing something nice for someone else, even in small ways, can make you feel better. Think about how you could give in your community, perhaps volunteering or helping a friend or neighbour.

  • Do something you enjoy

Try to make time to do an activity you like on a regular basis. Whether it’s cooking a meal, playing music, hanging out with friends, or indulging in hobbies like playing video games or reading, doing things you love can boost your mood.

  • Talk about your feelings

When you’re stressed, talking to someone—whether it’s a friend, family member, partner, counsellor, or another trusted person—can really help. Sharing your feelings makes you feel supported and understood. It can give you a new perspective, clarify why you’re stressed, and even help you find solutions. Talking to someone about what’s worrying you can unload stress and anxiety.

If you’re used to keeping things to yourself, opening up to someone else might feel strange at first. Everyone agrees that talking about mental health is important, but not everyone talks about how tough it can be to start the conversation. Check out this information from Jigsaw on how to ask for help.


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