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How to Cope With Stress

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Identify the Signs and Start Getting your Life into Balance

Stress causes many serious long-term health issues. Recognise the warning signs and deciding to do something about it are the two essential steps towards putting your life and career back on an even keel.

Straight talk about stress

Stress is the natural response of our minds and bodies to events around us. Many of us like a certain amount of stress at work because it makes us feel alert and motivated.

When we talk about stress, we usually mean an excess of stress. Millions of years ago, we evolved to respond to stress with physical action, something that is at odds with our modern lifestyle and especially the modern workplace. The result is that stress builds up inside us. Eventually, unless we give our accumulated stress an outlet, we reach breaking point.

There is no stigma attached to stress. It affects many people, especially those with busy jobs and high-pressure responsibilities.
If you suffer from stress, do something about it. The longer you leave it, the more likely you are to have problems with your health, career and personal life.

Causes of stress

There are many causes of stress. Some are temporary, while others are present every day. The common causes include

The signs of stress

It can be hard to admit to feeling stressed, so be honest with yourself. Some typical symptoms are

  • needing alcohol or other drugs
  • high blood pressure
  • irregular heartbeat
  • chronic headaches
  • frequent illnesses such as colds and flu
  • always feeling tired or run-down
  • trouble getting to sleep
  • no enthusiasm for life in general
  • getting angry over trivial things

What you should do

If you think you suffer from stress, you should see your doctor or seek other professional advice. It’s also essential to have a good look at your health and fitness. Simple things like walking every day, eating a balanced diet and reducing your sugar and coffee intake can make a huge difference.

Try to identify the cause of your stress and, if possible, do something about it. For example, if the problem is a personality conflict with your manager, perhaps the best thing you can do is look for a new job.

Alternatively, the reason could be within your control. You may, for example, have a fear of public speaking or worry about your ability to manage other people. If you want to change something about yourself, it’s time for some personal development.

Further reading

Visit our Careers Advice section for related articles.

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