When faced with a challenging situation or stressful event, our bodies respond by bringing about physical changes that often help us to react to the challenge presented. However, if the stress is ongoing and the physical changes do not subside, we may feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.

What are the signs of stress?

While everyone will be impacted by and respond to stress differently, there are some common signs to look out for that our stress is impacting our mental health and wellbeing. Not everyone will experience the same level of stress in the same situation, with responses to stress being impacted upon by the situation faced, past experiences, personality, social supports, cultural background, and access to supports and strategies.

There are some signs which indicate our stress levels are affecting us in a negative way:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope

  • Feeling ‘on edge’ or unable to stop worrying

  • Sleep difficulties, fatigue, and exhaustion

  • Changes in appetite

  • Physical reactions such as headaches, muscle tension, upset stomach, and difficulty concentrating

  • Changes in mood and irritability

  • Withdrawal from friends and family

  • Thoughts of suicide

  • Reliance on alcohol or other substances to cope

What to do when feeling overwhelmed

Here are some practical strategies for managing stress when feeling overwhelmed and finding it difficult to cope:

  • Identify the cause of your stress and review your current coping mechanisms

  • Talk to someone you trust (eg. friend, family member, religious or community leader or GP)

  • Remind yourself of your skills and strengths, achievements and effort made during this difficult time

  • Make a positive plan on how to address the situation

  • Take care of yourself (eat well, exercise, and rest)

  • Find time for activities you enjoy

  • Access local supports services (GP, counselling services)


Do you need someone to talk to? Whether you're stressed, or there's something else going on in your life, we're here 24/7 to help.

All content in Sonder's Help Centre is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

Article originally published by Lifeline.

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash.

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