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Identify common signs and indicators of stress in self and others

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2021 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

Stress in the workplace can have a severe negative effect on individuals, so it is important that you can recognise the signs and indicators in yourself and others so that you can develop a stress management plan. In addition, stress has an impact on your colleagues, employer, the individuals you support and the care workforce as a whole, so the earlier that these signs can be recognised, the quicker measures can be put in place to manage stress.

In many cases, a certain amount of stress can be useful – it prepares the body for action and helps to direct focus on the task in hand. However, when stress builds up so much that you feel unable to manage, it can have a negative effect on yourself and your practice.

It is important to note that stress affects each of us differently so the indicators of stress in one person may not be the same as those of another. By having an understanding of common indicators of stress, you are more likely to recognise it in one of your colleagues and intervene to support them.

Some common signs of stress include:

  • Tiredness
  • Sensitivity/crying
  • Irritation
  • Irrational behaviour
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and constipation
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tension
  • Mood swings
  • Strained working relationships
  • Withdrawal from social activities

Example question and answer

Describe three common signs or indicators of stress.

There are several signs or indicators that yourself or somebody else is suffering from stress.

It may be a change in eating or sleeping habits, such as a loss of appetite, overeating, being tired all the time or insomnia.

Changes in characteristics, such as being easily irritated, getting angry for no tangible reason or having a lack of motivation can suggest that somebody is stressed.

Oversensitivity or tearfulness is another sign of stress.