Thomas Road Clinic - Now Open


What is stress?

Stress is a word that many people in New Zealand use to describe how our body and mind responds when we feel under pressure or feel like something bad might happen. It usually happens when we are in a situation that we don't feel we can manage or control.

Sometimes a small amount of stress can be helpful as it gives us energy, motivation and focus to get things done.

But stress can become a problem when it lasts for a long time or is very severe. The hormones that our body produces to respond to stressful situations can have many effects on us.

Sometimes when we are stressed, we might be able to tell right away. But at other times, we might keep going without realising we are stressed.

Signs of stress

If you are stressed, you might notice the following things:

In your body (physical signs)

  • Changes in your sleeping patterns

  • Shortness of breath or shallow breathing

  • Indigestion, stomach upsets

  • Headaches and pains in lower back, chest, shoulders or other parts of the body

  • Skin itches or rashes for no clear reason

  • Problems with concentrating or remembering things

  • Often getting colds or flu

  • Nervous ‘twitches’ or muscle spasms

In your feelings (emotional signs)

  • Losing confidence

  • Feeling tearful, tense or anxious

  • Losing your joy and energy for life

  • Feeling irritable or impatient

In the way you act (behavioural signs)

  • Losing interest in family, friends or work

  • Poor self care

  • Finding it hard to make decisions

  • Relying on drugs, alcohol, caffeine or overeating

What can I do about stress?

You can think about what is causing you stress and see what you can do to change this.

Of course, some things are out of our control and we may not be able to change them, so it may also be helpful to think about how you can cope differently with stress.