How do you know you are stressed?

by | Nov 8, 2020 | Resilience, Self-care, Stress


As I write this early November 2020, we can say that this year so far has been a roller coaster when it comes to emotions and stress…

Stress and I have known each other a while. Whether it was seeing its manifestation in family members as a child and then in myself as a student, a parent, a co-worker or really as a human being… Can you recognise your stress with it comes up? Do you know what to do? And can you prevent it coming back? Let’s explore together…

  • What can stress you?

This is varied as it depends how we react. Stress can be triggered by being under pressure, facing changes and uncertainty (hello 2020!), worrying, not controlling a situation, feeling overwhelmed or even like nothing you do makes a difference. It can be many small things or one big thing causing you stress. Both happy and sad events can cause stress.

It may be harder to identify or explain to people if you are not sure where it comes from. A situation compared to another may cause you more stress than other people around you – and it is ok – as we all have our own way of dealing with emotions and stress based on what we have gone through in our lives, how we deal with situation and how much resilience we have built so far.

  • Stress – How does it manifest?

It will be different for each of us.

  1. But it can affect how you feel – maybe you are more impatient and aggressive or even feeling down.
  2. How you behave – not being able to make decisions, unable to concentrate, forgetting to eat, having your sleep disturbed.
  3. And also manifest physically – pains and aches (always at the same place or not), indigestion, blurry vision, heart disease…

Paying attention to those signs is important to realise how your stress affect you and to recognise when it is coming back (or if it has not left you at all). Stress, a bit like emotions, has this ability to mount, the longer it is ignored and then explode, overtaking your life and potentially leading to burnout.

  • So how do you get rid of the stress in you?

“Because you’ve dealt with the stressor,” I said, “but not the stress. Your bodies still think you’re being chased by the lion.” — Emily Nagoski

Identifying what stress us is important to know where it comes from and see it coming when it comes back but we need to get rid of the stress in you brain and bodies. In Burnout, Emily and Amelia Nagoski talk about the stress cycle and how once in it (in a state of stress) you need to get out of it and close the cycle. and to do this you need to consciously ( the same way you decide to take a shower or brush your teeth) do something to get out of it!

so a few things to close the stress cycle and get rid of the stress:

  • Move your body between 20 to 60 mins (dance, run, swim etc…) everyday. In times of lockdown it may be you dancing in your kitchen – 20 mins is about 6 songs
  • Breathing: deep and slow breathing – there are different techniques my favourite is breathing in counting 7 and breathing out counting 11 – or you can do 5 in / 5 out to start with.
  • Laughing – yep – best medicine – so go for it
  • Affection – hug someone for at least 20 sec – This way you know you are safe.
  • Crying – yes this helps and if you have had a cry because you felt it was all too much you know the relief you felt after.
  • Creativity – creative activities reinvigorate us and brings energy, excitement

When you have done some of these – recognise the shift in your mind and your body.

  • What about the cause of stress in your life?

ok so I hear you say – great stress is out of my body but what about out of my life?

We seem to be staying stressed these days because in some ways it is socially acceptable to be stressed – it means you have things to do and you are busy. but really? Stressed by default, looking for stress, having no boundaries – is this really what we are all striving for? Is it safer to stay that way as it is uncomfortable to realise what we could change in our lives?

Well, when you have identified what causes you stress, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the stress transitional and you know it will stop at some point? What can you do to manage this temporary stress?
  • Is the stress permanent/ chronic? And if so, are you willing to set-up some boundaries to stay safe?What will you change in your life to decrease or eliminate your source of stress?
  • What does help look like to shift your stress?


  • Compassion and Kindness

When looking at what stresses you and how to get out of it, whether that is “completing the stress cycle” or understanding where the stress comes from and changing something in your life.

Be kind and compassionate to yourself, tell your inner critic that right now there is a need for him/ her to leave you alone and let you manage this. Really practise kindness.  This is a process, monitor your progress and celebrate what you achieve. Ask for help if you need.

‘We can do hard things.’ Glennon Doyle


Want some help to recognise what brings stress in you and what to do? – Download the free emergency self-care help sheet here and do the exercises to help you manage your own stress.

Want to be coached on how to manage your stress? Book your free 30 mins possibility session here or get in touch at


I am Gwen, the lead coach at When you make it happen.  Are you feeling stuck or have a challenge you want to think through in your life or career? Book a free possibility session to talk about what you need and how I can help you.

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