Tracy Smithers

Step By Step Counselling & Therapies

Carlisle, Penrith and the Eden Valley, North Cumbria



At some point in our lives STRESS is something that many of us will have experienced in some shape or form. Sometimes stress can be used positively to help energise or motivate us. On other occasions, it can have a negative impact on our lives. It is also possible to experience stress and not recognise we are stressed. By understanding stress and how to manage it we can greater understanding of how it impacts us, and when we do this can help develop the tools to manage our stress levels.

So, WHAT IS STRESS? Having done some research into this, I came across a definition on the NHS website which I think is a useful place to start.If you would like to know more behind their definition, I have included the link to their website in this post.

“Stress is the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure.”

The website goes on to mention that when stressed our body releases a hormone called adrenaline. This is often known as a fight or flight response, which means that we either run/leave a situation causing us stress or we remain in the situation and fight it.
It can often be a case that people develop a pattern of whether they choose flight or fight based on childhood experiences, life circumstances, or trauma.
Not all stress is a ‘bad’ thing sometimes it can be positive. It can motivate us, energise, and enable us through life. However, stress in its more negative form can have to impact our physical and emotional well-being, including our health, mood, relationships, behaviours, work, and experience in life.
Stress over a long period of time can lead to a huge impact on our daily lives, and overall wellbeing, and has the potential to develop into emotional exhaustion and burnout.

By understanding stress, and its impact, alongside having the tools to manage our stress, we reduce the risk of becoming burnout and exhausted.


Stress can vary from person to person, and also on the different causes of stress. However, stress appears to come under three areas.

ACUTE STRESS: This is when the body reacts to recent events, forthcoming situations, or a sudden situation arising.

EPISODIC ACUTE STRESS: When someone feels like they are always under pressure or getting things wrong.

CHRONIC STRESS: Continual stress which occurs over a period of time. This might happen as a result of stress in relationships, work, or financial issues. Chronic stress is when you are most likely to enter into a flight or fight response. Whilst experiencing chronic stress this is a period when your body and mind are more likely to be on high alert. This can have an impact on your overall health.
Some of the above information was found on the following website.

*There is a lot of different information online and from a variety of organisations on stress. If you are interested to know more, I have included a list of useful resources on stress at the back of this booklet.

TAKE TIME TO CONTEMPLATE: If you have experienced stress in the past or are currently experiencing stress, which type of stress do you most identify with? How has it impacted you?


• Being under pressure
• Life events such as bereavement
• Worry
• Lack of control over a situation
• Responsibilities (feeling overwhelmed)
• Lack of work/other activities
• Bullying/Abuse/Discrimination
• Financial circumstances
• Poor diet (low in nutrients and high in sugar)


• Lack of Sleep
• High blood pressure
• Headaches
• Digestive issues
• Heart problems
• Skin conditions
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Feeling isolated
• Feeling stuck and unable to move forward in life

*Please note that these are just some of the ways that stress can impact our lives. The impact of stress can vary depending on the individual, and the circumstances.


! Where do you experience stress in your body


• Eating healthily
• Reducing smoking/drinking
• Processed/sugary foods
• Exercise
• Getting plenty of sleep or rest
• Spending time outdoors
• Taking time out
• Doing something you enjoy
• Mindfulness
• Talking to family or friends
• Being KIND to yourself
If you need to seek professional help such as speaking to your doctor or talking therapy.

*Sometimes when we feel stressed it can cause us to feel cut off and isolated. It’s important to remember that you are not alone, it’s not unusual to feel like this. Seeking support from others whether it be people we know or professionals can play a key role in reducing and managing our stress levels.

When feeling stressed it can be helpful to find an activity that we enjoy to focus on. Doing this can help us relax and de-stress. Here are a few activities that you might find helpful.

• Going for a walk
• Baking
• Reading a book
• Doing a puzzle
• Colouring in/Drawing
• Journalling
• Gardening
• Swimming
• Listening to music
• Spending time with pets/animals

There are many different activities that can help reduce stress. Have you got any favourite ones that aren’t mentioned here?

ACTIVITY: Is it hard to imagine life without it being stressful? If you were to wake up tomorrow morning and all the stress was gone. How would life be? How would you feel what would you be doing? How would you feel? What would be different? Take time to contemplate this. It might help to write down or draw what a stress-free life would look like to you.
Once you have done this contemplate; what small steps can you take to create a life with less stress.
Sometimes Stress can take over our lives, and leave us feeling overwhelmed and disempowered. One of the key things we can do when managing stress is to recognise this is how we feel and take the power back. Once we take back control of how stress impacts our life, we can then take steps to reduce it and move forward into a happier less stressful future.
Most importantly………..



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