09 Apr, 2024

Lesa Maginn
Lesa Maginn

What is stress?

Stress is a normal response that a person has when they feel under pressure and there are demands upon them. This could be a critical situation such as being in danger or a less critical situation such as being two minutes late for a meeting.

When experiencing stress the body responds, we may have an elevated heart rate, sweat, breath more quickly, and our muscles tense. This response to a stress invoking situation is an evolutionary response, known as ‘fight or flight’.

Stress can cause many different experiences from physical and mental symptoms to changes in behaviour (NHS.UK).

Article > Stress Awareness month

Can stress ever be a good thing?

Stress, as we know, can be debilitating, paralysing and destructive, but it can also motivate us into action. Positive stress can help us improve our bounce-back-ability and resilience. How we harness that positive stress and use it ultimately to benefit is the challenge and can be linked to our mindset (

The Yerkes-Dodson law describes an empirical relationship between stress and performance. Developed by psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson in 1908, this law posits that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a certain point. The law suggests that there is an optimal level of stress corresponding to an optimal level of performance. This relationship is often depicted as an inverted U-shaped curve:

Article > Stress Awareness Month

A positive growth mindset will encourage us to seize the day and learn from our experiences. It will help us focus on constructive feedback, learn from mistakes, and enjoy being faced with challenges.

Article > Stress Awareness month

How to manage stress and build resilience (

Being prepared for periods of stress can make it easier to get through them. Knowing how to manage your wellbeing can help you recover after a stressful event. You may even refer to your ability to manage stress as your resilience.

There are things you can try to build your resilience to stress:

  • Be kind to yourself – Learning to be kinder to yourself can help with how you feel in different situations. Try to take breaks in your day for things you enjoy and reward yourself for your achievements, even if they seem small.

  • Try to find time to relax – This might feel hard if you can’t do anything to stop a situation that is making you stressed. If you can allow yourself a short break, this can help with how you feel.

  • Develop your interests and hobbies – Spending time on things you enjoy could help distract you from a stressful situation. If stress is making you feel lonely or isolated, shared hobbies can also be a good way of meeting new people.

  • Spend time in nature – This can help to reduce stress and improve wellbeing. You could try going for a walk in a green space, taking care of indoor plants, or spending time with animals.

  • Look after your physical health – Getting enough sleep, staying physically active and eating a balanced diet can make stress easier to manage. Stress can sometimes make these things difficult to look after, but even a small change can make a big difference.

When should you seek support from a professional?
If you are struggling to cope with stress and the things you are trying are not helping, you should seek further support from your GP.

There are free talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) available from the NHS Overview - Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Top Tips from Reed Wellbeing co-members on how they manage stress:

Reflecting on things that are inside and outside of my control, and that I am not the only person responsible – Julia, Health Improvement Lead

Take life day by day and be grateful for the little things. Don’t get stressed over what you can’t control – Natasha, Health & Wellbeing Coach

Taking 5 minutes out for yourself and use some breathing exercises – Bradley, Health and Wellbeing Coach

Selfcare isn’t selfish! Whether that is a bubble bath, seeing a friend, reading a book or listening to some music, it’s making that time for you – Hazel, Service Development Specialist

For me, managing the stress is all about taking a time out and checking in with myself – if it’s a longer walk with my dog or having sometime doing yoga on my own and limiting my screen time – Karolina, Coach Manager