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Feeling stressed?

Stress is something everyone feels at times, and there are all kinds of stressful situations that can be a part of daily life. Low-level stress can even be helpful or motivational.

There are plenty of things you can do to help cope with stressful events, and simple steps you can take to deal with feelings of stress or burnout.

We also have specific tips and expert advice to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing if you are feeling stressed or anxious about coronavirus (COVID-19).

What is stress?

Stress is the body's reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure. It's very common, can be motivating to help us achieve things in our daily life, and can help us meet the demands of home, work and family life.

But too much stress can affect our mood, our body and our relationships – especially when it feels out of our control. It can make us feel anxious and irritable, and affect our self-esteem.

Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time can also lead to a feeling of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, often called burnout.

The tips on this page should help, but if you have been experiencing stress for some time and it's affecting your daily life or causing you distress, you should consider seeking further support.

Top tips to deal with stress and burnout

Split up big tasks

If a task seems overwhelming and difficult to start, try breaking it down into easier chunks, and give yourself credit for completing them.

Allow yourself some positivity

Take time to think about the good things in your life. Each day, consider what went well and try to list 3 things you're thankful for.

Challenge your thoughts

The way we think affects the way we feel. Watch our video to learn how to challenge unhelpful thoughts.

Video: Reframing unhelpful thoughts

Be more active

Being active can help you to burn off nervous energy. It will not make your stress disappear, but it can make it less intense.

Better Health: Home workout videos

Talk to someone

Trusted friends, family and colleagues, or contacting a helpline, can help us when we are struggling. Watch our video for more ideas.

Video: Social connection

Plan ahead

Planning out any upcoming stressful days or events – a to-do list, the journey you need to do, things you need to take – can really help.

Find out more things you can do

Get Your Mind Plan

Answer 5 quick questions to get your free plan with tips to help you deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control.

Video: What you can do for stress

Professor Anna Whittaker, psychologist and professor of behavioural medicine, says: "Taking control of the situation when you're feeling stressed is really empowering."

Signs of stress or burnout

If you are stressed, you may:

  • feel overwhelmed
  • have racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating
  • be irritable
  • feel constantly worried, anxious or scared
  • feel a lack of self-confidence
  • have trouble sleeping or feel tired all the time
  • avoid things or people you are having problems with
  • be eating more or less than usual
  • drink or smoke more than usual

Possible causes of stress

Stress affects people differently, and the things that cause stress vary from person to person.

The level of stress you are comfortable with may be higher or lower than that of other people around you. Stressful feelings typically happen when we feel we do not have the resources to manage the challenges we face.

Pressure at work, school or home, illness, or difficult or sudden life events can all lead to stress.

Some possible causes of stress are:

  • our individual genes, upbringing and experiences
  • difficulties in our personal lives and relationships
  • big or unexpected life changes, like moving house, having a baby or starting to care for someone
  • money difficulties, like debt or struggling to afford daily essentials
  • health issues, either for you or someone close to you
  • pregnancy and children
  • problems with housing, like the conditions, maintenance or tenancy
  • a difficult or troubled work environment
  • feeling lonely and unsupported

Support for stress

Non-urgent advice: Helping someone else

Get tips and advice on helping others struggling with their mental health.

Urgent advice: Urgent support

If you cannot wait to see a doctor and feel unable to cope or keep yourself safe, it's important to get support – services are still open during the coronavirus pandemic.