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National Stress Awareness Day 03.11.21

On Wednesday 3rd November it is National Stress Awareness Day.

What is stress?

The NHS Every Mind Matters website defines stress in the following way:

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.

Stress is commonly known as the fight or flight response, and can be caused by a number of things including:

  • Chronic illness or injury
  • Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem)
  • Taking care of an elderly or sick family member
  • A traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, theft or violence against you or a loved one

Stress can also build up over time.  A busy workload, an ill child and money worries might not individually cause us stress, but when they all happen at the same time or over a long period, it can cause ongoing stress.  

Whilst children may not experience the same type of problems and responsibilities as adults, they can still feel threatened or under pressure by life events or daily worries.  It is important to keep an eye out for signs that your child is feeling under stress.

What are the signs of stress?

According to WebMD, the signs of stress are:

Emotional symptoms of stress include:

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
  • Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
  • Avoiding others

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
  • Clenched jaw and grinding teeth

Cognitive symptoms of stress include:

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgment
  • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side

Behavioral symptoms of stress include:

  • Changes in appetite - either not eating or eating too much
  • Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
  • Exhibiting more nervous behaviours, such as nail-biting, fidgeting, and pacing

How can children and adults help themselves to feel less stressed?

The NHS Every Mind Matters website has lots of information on how to alleviate the effects of stress including:

  • Splitting up big tasks
  • Allowing yourself some positivity
  • Challenging your thoughts
  • Being more active
  • Talking to someone
  • Planning ahead

Where to go if you or your child needs support

If you have any concerns about your child/ren's mental health, you can get more information and advice by visiting chums.uk.com, the Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Service for Children and Young People. 

You can also contact your child's class teacher to raise any mental health and well-being concerns by emailing office@owps.org.uk, using the website contact form, or emailing your child's year group (all the year group emails are listed here).

If you are concerned about your own mental health and well-being, you can read more about how to access further advice and support by clicking here to visit Mind's website.

The NHS is encourages people to come forward for support with mental health and well-being, with the GP cited as the first port of call. 

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash