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Commonly known as: tense, anxious, not coping, pressure


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What is stress?

Everyone experiences stress; it is a normal response to situations that we find threatening, demanding or when we are in a situation in which we feel we have little control over. We all feel stress differently.

The physical changes that take place when we feel stressed are our body’s way of protecting us from what we are finding stressful. Sometimes our physical response to stress can be helpful and can motivate us to deal with things in our daily life, such as deliver a speech or take an exam. Our stress levels usually go back to normal very quickly after the stressful event is over.

However, high levels of stress can negatively affect our mood, our body and our relationships. It can also leave us feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope. And if we are experiencing too much stress over a long period of time it can affect our physical emotional and mental health.

Common causes of stress may include

  • Financial worries
  • Work
  • Relationships
  • Health issues
  • Sudden changes to routine
  • Problems with housing including moving
  • Having a baby
  • Menopause
  • Exams
  • Cultural demands

Symptoms of stress

  • Feeling tired or fidgety or both at the same time
  • Change in sleep pattern
  • Racing heart, sense that it is banging in our chest
  • Stomach cramps
  • Feeling like you need to go to the bathroom
  • Headaches
  • Feeling irritable or negative
  • Overeating or avoiding food
  • Poor concentration or racing thoughts, unable to “switch off”
  • Increase in drinking alcohol and/or smoking
  • Fight or flight response – see our anxiety page for more information.

Self-help advice to manage stress

If stress is affecting your life in a negative way there are things you try to help yourself.

  • Talk to someone: a family member or a friend.
  • Think about the things that cause you stress, and if there is anything you could do to change or manage these.
  • Try one of our free self-help courses or resources to learn skills to challenge your thinking and find ways to positively manage your stress. Think about the good things in your life, each day try to consider 3 things that have gone well.
  • Practice self-care – see our section on looking after yourself.
  • Mindfulness can be a helpful tool to manage stressful situations.

If you need further help managing stress

If the information, advice, resources and courses on this page have not been helpful and/or you think you need more help, there are many free support services available.

If you are worried about your general mental health, contact NHS Mental Health 111 Option 2. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is free to call from a mobile (even when the caller has no credit left) or from a landline. The service will provide immediate support over the phone to help cope with how you are feeling, and if needed, a referral to mental health services will be arranged

If you live in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area, and are aged over 18, you can contact your GP surgery to make an appointment with a Psychological Health Practitioner (PHP) or a GP.    PHPs are NHS mental health practitioners, that are available in most GP surgeries in the ABUHB area, who provide a free service for people experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems. Appointments can be either face to face, or over the phone.

If you are under 18 or worried about someone aged under 18 and need advice/self-referral to local mental health and wellbeing services in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area, contact SPACE-Wellbeing.

Or alternatively contact another approved helpline. Some services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

If you are an unpaid carer for someone experiencing stress, visit our Unpaid Carers page for more information and advice.

Last updated: 19.04.2024

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Self-help courses to help manage stress

SilverCloud Mental Health Courses

Space from Stress – SilverCloud

SilverCloud is a free online service for anyone living in Wales or registered with a GP in Wales.

With a focus on helping you cope with everyday stresses and challenges, this programme helps you to identify and improve existing strengths and skills and build new ones. This is a practical programme that provides you with the tools and techniques to manage stress and bring balance into your life.

Based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
It can be completed at your own pace and is available 24/7 from any digital device.

Learn more
Online Self-instructed

State of Mind Programme – 4YP Gwent

4YP (Platfform) work across the county of Gwent offering support to young people who are experiencing challenges with their mental health. They offer the 10 week State of Mind programme, peer support groups and workshops. For young people aged 14-18. This is a 10 week programme where a different topic is explored each week. 

Learn more
Relationship issues

Relationship issues – Living Life to the Full

A course containing two topics:
1. You Me and Us.
For people in relationships under pressure. Can you improve things – or is it time to leave?

2. Moving Out and Moving on.
For anyone facing the end of a relationship to help you understand your reactions, and plan your next steps.

Learn more
Online Self-instructed
Coping with low mood and stress – A Course for Farming Communities

Coping with Low Mood and Stress for Farming Communities – Living Life to the Full

Farming has high levels of low mood and stress. This tried and tested course contains a range of life skills resources created with farmers for farmers. Aimed at farmers and those in the wider farming community including family and friends. This course has 13 modules.

Learn more
Online Self-instructed
Doing things to make you feel better course

Doing things to make you feel better – Living Life to the Full

The worse you feel the less you do. Then the less you do – the worse you feel- and the Cycle of Reduced activity spins. Work out what you’ve cut down/stopped that is good for you- and plan ways of building these activities back into your day.

Learn more
Online Self-instructed
Showing 5 out of 14 results View all

Self-help resources to help manage stress

Type Title Related to… Provider
Apps (iOS) Apps (iOS)

Stress and Anxiety Companion App: Uses proven psychological approaches to manage stress and anxiety at work (iOS)

Anxiety, Depression, Men's Mental Health, Stress

Companion Apps

Apps (Android) Apps (Android)

Stress and Anxiety Companion App: Uses proven psychological approaches to manage stress and anxiety at work (Android)

Anxiety, Depression, Men's Mental Health, Stress

Companion Apps

Reading Reading

Stress – NHS Self-help Guide

Anxiety, Mindfulness, Stress mind
Websites Websites

Young Person’s Mental Health Toolkit – Anxiety

Anxiety, Children's Mental Wellbeing, Social Anxiety, Students' Mental Health, Young Person's Mental Health mind
Reading Reading

Reading Well – Free Books for Mental Health from your Local Library

Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Bereavement, Low Mood, Mindfulness, Self-Care, Self-Esteem, Self-Harm, Sleep, Social Anxiety, Stress mind
Showing 5 out of 35 results View all

Related videos

One Minute Breathing Exercise to Ease Anxiety | Sea Waves | Melo Cymru Wales

Mindful 3 Step Breathing Space | Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Showing 2 out of 7 results View all

Helplines providing information and advice about reducing and managing stress

See below for helplines relevant to stress. To see our full list of helplines, visit our helplines page.

CALL Mental Health Listening Line Logo

C.A.L.L. Mental Health Listening Line

Community Advice & Listening Line

Provides a confidential mental health listening and emotional support line which is open 24/7. CALL can also signpost to support in local communities and a range of online information.

Visit the CALL website ➝
Childline Logo

Childline – for children and young people under 19

Childline is here to help anyone under 19 in the UK with any issue they’re going through. You can talk about anything. Whether it’s something big or small, our trained counsellors are here to support you.

Get help and advice about a wide range of issues, call us, talk to a counsellor online, send Childline an email or post on the message boards.

Call on 0800 1111 – the number will not show up on your phone bill. Support can be accessed online here by making an account.

Support available 24/7. BSL available Mon-Fri 8am-8pm and Sat 8am-1pm. Welsh speaker available on request, appointment will be scheduled.

Visit the Childline website ➝
Meic Logo


Meic is the helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25 in Wales. From finding out what’s going on in your local area to help dealing with a tricky situation, Meic will listen even when no-one else will. We won’t judge you and will help by giving you information, useful advice and the support you need to make a change.

Our helplines are open 8am – Midnight

Visit the Meic website ➝


Text Shout to 85258 – Shout is the UK’s first 24/7 text servicefree on all major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere.

It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help.

Shout is powered by a team of volunteers, who are at the heart of the service. We take people from crisis to calm every single day.

Visit the Shout website ➝
NHS 111 Wales Logo

Mental Health 111 (Option 2)

If you or someone you know requires immediate medical attention, or in immediate danger, then dial 999 or go to A&E.

If you or someone you know needs urgent mental health care, but it is not life threatening, call NHS 111 and select Option 2.
Mental Health 111 (Option 2) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is free to calls from a mobile (even when the caller has no credit left) or from a landline.

When you call, a Mental Health & Wellbeing Practitioner will talk through how you are feeling. They can provide brief interventions over the phone to help you cope with how you are feeling. They can also arrange referrals to mental health services, if needed.

Find out more ➝
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Psychological Health Practitioners (PHP)

If you feel you need ongoing support to improve your mental health, then you may need professional support from the NHS. This is a free service and you will be able to access this help from within your GP surgery. Ask if there is a Psychological Health Practitioner based in your surgery. If not, then your GP can provide support.

Find out more ➝
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

SPACE Wellbeing

SPACE Wellbeing is a multi-agency process to co-ordinate help, including both early intervention and specialist provision, for children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.

For any general enquiries regarding the SPACE Wellbeing Service, please contact the SPACE Wellbeing Helpline.

Our helplines are open Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm

For more information visit the SPACE website ➝
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