We are all affected by stress at some time in our lives. Whether as a result of workload, home life, relationships or a particular incident, stress can have both a short and long-term impact on our health and wellbeing. But, when stress starts to affect you, should you go to see your GP, or could you find ways to improve your health yourself?


Work-related stress is now recognised as a significant problem, with stress, anxiety and depression being one of the largest causes of sickness-related absence for employers. The costs to businesses are extensive – with an average of 31 working days lost per employee suffering from stress related illness, the compounding impact on other staff members, low morale and reduced productivity, when one member of staff suffers, the impact can be widespread.

Whilst there is duty of care of the employer to help identify and reduce the stress in the workplace, who takes on that responsibility in your home? If you are stressed out, what are you going to do about it?

Going to the NHS may seem like an obvious answer – but should this be the first resort, or the last? Reports suggest that stress and anxiety related admissions to hospital are costing the NHS more than £70million each year.

Identifying stress

Managing your own stress can be difficult, particularly as you might not even recognise your feelings to start with. Stress symptoms can include low energy, headaches, stomach aches and changes in bowel movements, tense muscles, rapid heartbeats and insomnia, and even include frequent colds and infections.

We all react differently to situations, and what may cause stress in one person may be different for another. When you start to recognise symptoms, it’s good to identify the cause.

Some situations may be short term, while others feel like there is just no way to resolve the issues – moving house or wedding planning, for example, clearly have an end date, while money worries, relationship problems, chronic illness or grief, may make you feel helpless.

Take action against stress

There are a number of ways you can tackle your stress head on. If you are able to identify the cause, then you’ll be able to find someone who can help you. Speak to a family member or friend to help you cope with big tasks. Hand out a list of jobs that other people can do to finish the wedding plans, or look at companies to help with your house move.

There are also experts on hand to help with issues such as money problems and relationship issues. Stress and anxiety can feel very isolating, but you don’t have to be alone.

Finally, there are plenty of activities you can undertake to help your own stress related symptoms. Simple relaxation therapies can be highly effective at lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety, such as reiki and reflexology. Plus, they have the advantage of being natural, without additional side effects that tablets can have.

If you’re suffering from stress, consider what you can do to reduce the causes and treat the symptoms, before seeking medication.