What is stress?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines stress as “the reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.”

Stress can feel like you cannot move forward, your head is full, there is too much to think about, impossible things to achieve and not enough time. Stress can have physical effects as well, for example, poor sleep, affected appetite, headaches, sickness and feeling tired.

Why do people experience stress?

Stress can be brought on by high workload, “stressful” situations, unsettled relationships or many other situations. Stress can also make things feel worse, for example, you may have an exam coming up and the stress makes you feel like “everyone else knows it and is fine” and this makes the stress worse.

Experiencing stressful times is a part of life, but the amount of stress and how you manage it depends not only on the event, but also your ability to cope under pressure.

Some stress can be helpful, for example, motivating you to revise, but sometimes stress can feel overwhelming and then become problematic. You must let someone know if this is the case.

Stress can affect how we feel in every day life, for example, our mood, sense of humour and wanting to take part in things we normally enjoy. There are ways to manage stress and support is available to help you with these, advice is available on managing workload, prioritising, managing relationships and sometimes just saying no to things, or accepting that some things cannot be changed.

Sometimes stress can lead to anxiety.

How to seek support

  • Complete the self-referral on this website and you will be contacted on your school email by a mental health professional
  • Go to your GP
  • Speak to a trusted adult
  • Look on line for information, for example:

You are not alone and will not be judged, support is available.


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