Stress and how to cope with it

Stress is our body’s response to pressure that manifests itself in many different ways. It’s the feeling of being overwhelmed and finding it hard to cope emotionally or mentally. Taking time to identify the emotional and mental pressures in our lives and addressing them is a good way to understand and protect our mental health. We’ve got lots of tips to help you manage stress and avoid it becoming chronic or leading to burnout.

Managing Stress

Mental Health UK Team

Stress is a big issue for Britain today. In the UK’s largest ever stress survey, 74% of people said stress has made them feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. But there are lots of little ways you can help manage stress every day. Andy and Dave from Mental Health UK share some of the ways they handle stress at work, and some small changes which can really make all the difference. Explore our myth busters for common misconceptions about stress.

Stress myth busters


Whilst everyone will experience stress at some point in their lives there are numerous ways people can reduce the likelihood of becoming stressed and the impact it might have on them. For example, strategies for reducing and coping with stress can be setting priorities, getting enough sleep, relaxation or physical exercises etc.

Myth. Like adults, children and teenagers can experience stress. Children may not have the words to express how they they feel, so it is important to be aware of the signs of stress such as irritability, social withdrawal, trouble sleeping etc. Causes of stress in young people might be related to, moving home, moving schools, parents separating/divorcing, bullying, exam pressure etc.

Myth. Stress is a product of the subconscious beliefs we hold about our world. To learn about stress, we need to challenge those beliefs so that we can reframe them differently.

Myth. People do not experience stress in the same way. Similarly, what causes one person to become stressed (a stressor) can be different too. For example, some people thrive in high powered jobs whilst others can feel stressed by it. What is a stressor and how we react to stress is personal and subjective

Myth. Prolonged stress can lead to other health problems. Whilst stressful situations can sometimes be unavoidable, you should always be mindful of how to look after yourself so that stress doesn’t have an accumulative impact.

Myth. The signs of stress are not shown in the same way by everyone. Whilst some may experience mood swings, be short tempered and less patient, others may internalize their stress and become depressed or anxious. Stress has a wide range of effects on mood, behaviour and emotions.

Myth. Whilst drinking alcohol may seem to help someone feel more at ease and therefore less stressed, the source of the stress remains the same once the effects of alcohol wares of. Additionally, reliance on substances to reduce stress could lead to further issues relating to reliance and misuse.

Complicated! Excess of the stress hormone cortisol has been linked to alterations in the memory, cognition, immune system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system and the gastrointestinal system. Stress can therefore impact many areas of the body. However, research has also shown that short-term stress can boost your immune system.

Myth. Whilst stress has been recognized as both a contributing factor and symptom of some mental health conditions, it is not itself a psychiatric condition.

Work life balance

Laura Archer, author of 'Gone For Lunch: 52 things to do in your lunch break'

Did you know that a year’s worth of lunch breaks equates to almost 6 extra weeks of annual leave? This is what Laura discovered when she decided to reclaim her lunch breaks for herself. The results were increased energy, happiness, and greater job satisfaction. Laura will help you identify the signs of “burnout” before they happen, and provide some practical tips for achieving a work/life balance, starting with walking away from your desk!

What contributes to burnout and how to reduce the risk

Downloadable stress tips

What is stress?

Signs of stress

Supporting others

Reducing stress

Downloadable stress tips

Breathing exercise


Sleeping well

Stress bucket

Downloadable resources

The stress bucket

Healthy levels of stress can help push us, but sometimes it makes us feel like we can’t do anything at all. This simple tool helps us to think about ways we can release stress.

Wellbeing workplan

Use our Wellbeing Workplan to keep yourself well in the workplace

Managing stress and building resilience

Mentally healthy workplaces are everyone’s business. This short guide shares practical tips for coping with stress yourself, and also as a manager. 

Mental health training for your organisation

Increasing awareness and action around mental health in the workplace is vital for a positive working environment. We have a range of training courses to help make sure the right support is in place at your organisation.

Partner with us

Our partnerships team are on hand to help you through your journey. Call 0207 840 3008 or email [email protected] today.