What signs of stress should you be looking out for?

Stress can be unhealthy and even dangerous if it's allowed to continue for long periods of time. So what signs should you be looking for?

Stress can be a difficult thing to identify both in yourself and in those around you. This is largely because it's acknowledged that everyone will experience stress at some time, but it's when it escalates that it becomes unhealthy and even dangerous. Spotting the early signs of stress is the best way to prevent it from getting to the point where it harms your health.

Sudden change in behaviour

Everyone has bad days, but if you notice a sudden change in someone's behaviour, then it could be a warning sign that they're struggling with stress. This can be becoming irrational, angry, withdrawn or emotional. However, any prolonged period where someone isn't acting themselves is a sign that they may need extra support.

Difficulty switching off

A key part of managing stressful situations is being able to relax and unwind, but if someone is struggling to do this, their stress levels may be a cause for concern. This can be shown in different ways, from being overly irritable to not being able to focus on relaxing activities, such as reading a book or having a bath. Being withdrawn and not wanting to see friends can also be a way that people show that they're struggling to switch off from their daily stresses.

Depression or low self-esteem

Stress can easily develop into other mental health problems like depression or anxiety. This is one of the most obvious signs that someone is struggling with the stress in their life. If you notice someone is being overly negative or incredibly critical of themselves, it's a warning that they may need some more support. Low self-esteem isn't always related to depression but can trigger some of the same symptoms.

Eating changes

Changes to eating can be a clear sign that someone is struggling. However, people are more likely to worry if someone is undereating than overeating but both can be causes for concern. Diet can have a massive role in how someone feels so spotting any changes to a person's usual eating habits could be a sign of stress.

Difficulty sleeping

Most people will have a rough night's sleep every now and then but continued periods of not getting enough rest is a red flag. It's a sign that people are not being able to relax and may be overthinking or worrying about something. This may not seem like a serious issue, but if people struggle to get enough sleep for just a few weeks, it can have a poor impact on their health.

Where to go for help

If you or someone you know is struggling with stress, it's important to get help from the right people in the right way as early as you can, to prevent it from having a detrimental impact on your health long term.

If you recognise these symptoms, the first place to ask for help is from your local GP. There are many different services available through your local medical practice they can refer you to, including sleep therapy workshops, one on one Cognitive Behavioural Therapies, online and telephone support, as well as prescribed medication for specific conditions. The main point to remember is not to be afraid to ask for help of you need it, your feelings are valid and a little support can make a big difference in providing you peace of mind.

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