Our doctors can help with stress management. Book your online GP appointment now and see a doctor in minutes.

Our doctors can help with stress management. Book your online GP appointment now and see a doctor in minutes.

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What is stress?

Stress is an emotional and physical response to pressure, adversity, or demanding circumstances. We all experience stress in our lives, but too much stress stress can have a negative impact on our health. This kind of stress, can lead to mental health issues like anxiety, burnout, and depression as well as physical conditions like heart disease.  Stress can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms

Psychological symptoms of stress include: 

  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • racing thoughts
  • feeling anxious or worried all or most of the time 
  • feeling sad, frustrated, or angry
  • difficulty sleeping
  • low libido (sex drive)
  • feeling tearful 
  • feeling tired all the time
  • eating more or less than usual
  • drinking or smoking more than usual 
  • avoiding certain situations or people 
  • feelings of low self-worth and lack of confidence
  • not wanting to socialise 

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • digestive problems such as indigestion, bloating, constipation, or diarrhoea 
  • headaches
  • shallow breathing or over-breathing (hyperventilation)
  • sweating
  • awareness of your own heartbeat, fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations) 
  • muscle aches and pains

What causes stress?

What causes stress and how we manage it is different for everyone. Some people are more likely to suffer from stress due to genetic factors, upbringing, or life experiences. Stress can be caused by a single major event such as divorce or illness, or a chronic (long-term) response to ongoing issues like problems at work or money worries. 

Some common causes of stress include: 

  • relationship problems
  • financial issues and money problems
  • illness affecting yourself or someone close to you
  • major life events like moving house, divorce, or having a baby
  • housing problems
  • pregnancy and childbirth
  • problems at work
  • feeling lonely, or a lack of support

How to manage stress

Stress affects us all at one time or another, and it’s important to develop healthy coping strategies for managing difficult times. 

Some things you can do to help manage stress include:

  • recognise you have a problem. Stress affects us all and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Ignoring the warning signs will only make the problem worse and could lead to long-term health issues like cardiovascular (heart) disease and depression. 
  • take action. The first step in managing stress is to identify the cause and take action to find a solution. Putting off dealing with the problem only creates more stress and further impacts your mental and physical health.
  • ask for support. Talking to family and friends, or a healthcare professional about how you’re feeling makes you feel less alone and may help you come up with a solution.
  • practices like mindfulness and meditation are great mental health habits that can greatly reduce stress.
  • avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms like overeating, eating unhealthy foods, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and recreational drug use. These behaviours may appear to provide a short-term escape from your problems but make stress worse in the long run. 
  • focus on what you can control. There are some situations like illness or being made redundant that you can’t control. Instead, focus on what you can control, like helping your body to heal, or finding a better job. 

How to reduce stress?

In addition to managing stress when it happens, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to reduce stress in your everyday life and prevent it from getting out of control. Some things you can do to reduce stress include: 


  • make time for yourself. “Me time” is a valuable weapon in the fight against stress. Take regular time out to do something you love like a night in with a good book, going for a run, or having lunch with friends.
  • eat a healthy diet. Ditch the junk food, salt, and sugar, and eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition, make sure you get enough vital nutrients like vitamins and minerals and drink plenty of water. 
  • get moving. The link between exercise and reduced stress levels is well documented. Physical activity increases the body`s production of mood-boosting endorphins and has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and low mood. It doesn’t need to be a hardcore gym session; just something that gets you moving and gives you a sense of achievement. 
  • practice gratitude. Change your mindset to focus on the positives rather than the negatives of a situation. One good way of doing this is to write down 3 things you are grateful for at the end of every day. 
  • practice time management. Managing time effectively is a great way to reduce stress. Prioritise your workload and get the most important tasks done first. 
  • set yourself goals. Pushing yourself to achieve a new goal like learning a language or running a 10K builds confidence which helps to alleviate the negative thoughts associated with stress
  • volunteer. Helping others is a proven way to reduce stress, as helping those worse off than yourself helps to put things into perspective. Being needed also boosts confidence and self-esteem. 
  • get plenty of sleep. Getting enough quality sleep makes everyday stress easier to handle. Talk to your GP or healthcare provider about establishing a good bedtime and sleep hygiene routine and avoid substances such as caffeine and alcohol that can impair sleep. 

Can a pharmacist help with stress management?

Your local pharmacist can provide you with an advice of how to deal with stress and provide a range of self-help actions you can take to minimise your stress. 

Online GP appointments for stress management

If you are struggling to manage symptoms of stress, or are worried about your stress levels, make an online GP appointment to speak to one of our NHS-trained GPs today. Our GPs can advise you on coping with stress and in some cases, but not all, may recommend further treatments like medication for your mental health or cognitive behavioural therapy. 

Making an online GP appointment with a Medicspot is quick and easy online. Simply choose a time that is convenient for you and have your appointment by video link from your phone wherever you are.  

Please note that our doctors are not able to prescribe benzodiazepines such as diazepam or xanax.


NHS: Better Health. Every mind matters: Feeling stressed?  (Accessed August 29th 2022) 

Mental Health Foundation: Stress September 17th 2021 (Accessed August 29th 2022) 

NHS: 10 Stress busters November 20th 2018 (Accessed August 29th 2022) 

PubMed: How to relax in stressful situations June 2020  (Accessed August 29th 2022) 

PubMed: Exercise for Mental Health August 2006  (Accessed August 29th 2022)