How Stress Affects Your Physical and Mental Health

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April is stress awareness month, so we thought it timely to raise awareness about the potential risks of stress and how it can affect both physical and mental health. It is important to understand the different stress triggers that can lead to high levels of stress and the negative impact it can have on the body and mind. From increased heart rate to feeling overwhelmed, it is essential to learn how to recognise and cope with stress in order to maintain good physical and mental health. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of stress, the signs of stress, how to cope with stress, asking for help, and mindfulness.

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s natural response to situations that it perceives as difficult, challenging or threatening. It is a way of helping us prepare for action and is usually accompanied by physical and mental reactions. Stress triggers can vary from person to person, but can include events such as work deadlines, money troubles, family matters, or major life changes.

Why do we get stressed?

Stress is a normal reaction that has been around since our caveman ancestors had to outrun sabre-toothed tigers. It can be a healthy response to challenges and can help us focus on tasks at hand. That said, modern life often means we’re dealing with more stressors than our ancestors did, which can lead to physical and emotional overload.

Everyone is different – some people cope better than others. For some people, being able to effectively manage stress can make all the difference between achieving their goals and feeling overwhelmed by them. People who struggle with stress may find that their emotions become more erratic or difficult to manage, leading to decreased productivity and health problems.

Work time lost in the UK because of stress-related absence is estimated to cost businesses billions of pounds a year. This can have serious consequences for both employers and employees and highlights the importance of managing stress levels..

The physical effects of stress

When we experience stress, our bodies release hormones that can cause physical symptoms. These can include feeling tense and on edge, difficulty sleeping, a weakened immune system, sweating, fatigue, digestive issues, rapid heartbeat, headache, and weight gain or loss.

When we are exposed to a stressful situation for an extended period of time, it can lead to more serious physical health issues like high blood pressure, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, sexual dysfunction, and weakened bones and muscles. All of these issues can significantly reduce our quality of life and disrupt our daily activities.

It is important to note that you are not alone in dealing with the physical effects of stress. Everyone experiences stress differently and it is important to recognise the signs in order to take steps towards managing your stress levels. If you are experiencing any of the physical effects of stress, it is important to seek help from a healthcare professional.

The mental effects of stress

When faced with a stressful situation, our brains are hardwired to respond in one of two ways: fight or flight. This reaction is designed to protect us from danger, and it can be incredibly helpful in a life-threatening situation. But when faced with more mundane, everyday stressors, it can have an adverse effect on our mental health.

Feeling overwhelmed by stress can lead to feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed. It can also lead to sleep disturbances and difficulty concentrating.

How to cope with stress

Stress can be overwhelming, but there are many ways to help manage it. Here are three strategies for coping with stress:

  1. Exercise: Regular physical activity is a great way to reduce stress and improve overall health. Research has found that aerobic exercise, such as walking, running, biking, and swimming can release endorphins and reduce levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. It’s important to find an activity you enjoy doing, so you’re more likely to stick with it.
  2. Relaxation techniques: Taking time out of your day to relax can help reduce stress. This could include activities such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation. All of these techniques have been shown to help decrease the symptoms of stress and improve overall wellbeing.
  3. Self-care: Taking care of yourself is essential in managing stress. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, take regular breaks throughout the day, and limit caffeine and alcohol intake. Additionally, engaging in activities that bring you joy and connecting with people you care about can help reduce stress levels.

Asking for help

It is often difficult to ask for help, especially when it comes to something like stress. We may think that it is a sign of weakness or an indication that we are not coping well. However, this could not be further from the truth. Asking for help is actually a sign of strength and courage. It is important to recognise that we are all different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

When it comes to dealing with stress, asking for help can be incredibly beneficial. A friend, family member, counsellor, therapist or even your doctor can offer invaluable support and guidance. They can help you to identify the causes of your stress and work with you to develop strategies to better manage it.

It is also important to remember that help is available if you need it. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone who can offer support and guidance. There are many services available to provide assistance, such as mental health helplines, online forums, or local support groups.

In short, asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of, and it is important to remember that you are not alone in your struggles with stress. There are people out there who are willing and able to lend a helping hand.


Mindfulness is a practice of being aware and present in the moment. It can help to reduce stress and improve your overall mental and physical health. Through mindfulness, you can learn to pay attention to the present without judgment or criticism, allowing yourself to observe without reacting to whatever is happening.

Engaging in mindfulness can be a great way to break away from the cycle of negative thoughts that can often come with stress. It can provide you with a break from worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Taking time to focus on the here and now can help you to become more aware of how you’re feeling and more in control of your emotions.

Mindfulness activities don’t have to take a lot of time or effort – there are plenty of simple things you can do to engage in mindfulness. Here are three easy activities to get you started:

  1. Take a mindful walk. Whenever you go out for a walk, make it a mindful experience. Focus on the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Take notice of the movement of your feet as they move along the ground. Notice how the air feels against your skin and how the sun or wind affects your body.
  2. Journaling. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a great way to clear your head and become more mindful. Instead of getting caught up in your worries, try to focus on describing what you’re feeling without judgment or criticism.
  3. Mindful breathing. Take some time to sit and focus on your breath. Close your eyes and notice the sensations in your body as you inhale and exhale. Allow yourself to just be with these sensations without judging them or trying to change them in any way.

We hope you’ve found some comfort in this blog. Just remember – it’s good to talk!