Did you know that April is Stress Awareness month? Stress affects us all at some point or another and workplace stress is sadly, very common. It’s perfectly natural to feel stressed by certain situations and moderate amounts of stress can be useful. However, prolonged stress can have the opposite affect and wreak havoc on both your mental and physical wellbeing. The problem is, so many of us don’t recognise signs of stress in its early stages and it’s only when we are close to breaking down that we are forced to do something about it. So, what are some of the early signs of stress?

Anxiety first thing in the morning – Do you wake up and instantly feel worried about the day ahead? This may happen when you have an important meeting to attend, for example but if your normal daily routine gives you a sense of impending doom or you feel overwhelmed by the idea of even getting out of bed and getting your day started then chances are you are suffering from stress.

Sunday night blues – That sad feeling you get when you approach the end of a fun filled weekend is something we have all experienced, dating back to our school days for many of us. However, feeling sad or worried about the week ahead every Sunday night is unhealthy and something you should recognise as a sign of stress.

Difficulty sleeping – Do you struggle to switch your mind off at night? Do you find yourself watching the clock from hour to hour? Stress can cause difficulty sleeping even though you may feel mentally exhausted.

Change in appetite – Both loss of appetite and overeating can be a symptom of stress so don’t ignore these changes.

Physical symptoms – Getting more colds than usual, cold sores, stomach pains, head and neck pain, dry mouth and rapid heart beat can all be physical signs of stress and, if left untreated can lead to long term health problems.

So what can you do about it? It is vital that you deal with any of these symptoms before they become a much bigger problem and the first step is to talk to someone. Whether it’s a trusted friend or family member or your GP, just talking through your feelings will help you to make sense of them. We are often so ashamed to speak up about stress for fear that people will see us as failures but no one can or should expect you to be anything more than human. If work is causing you to feel stressed then any decent boss will want to help you through that by making changes to your working day. If for no other reason that you are far more useful to them if you are mentally and physically healthy!

If you really don’t know who to turn to then why not start with www.mind.org.uk who have a list of helpful phone numbers that you can call for a non-judgemental, listening ear.

So, this Stress Awareness Month, make a point of recognising how you feel and be kind to yourself and to others. We never know what someone is battling with under the surface.

Stress Awareness Month – Recognising the Early Symptoms of Stress