How to recognise signs of stress

At some point in our lives, we've all experienced some levels of stress, whether that's through work, school, study or home life.

At times, it cannot be avoided. It's our bodies coping mechanism and natural reaction to a situation we may feel uncomfortable in, no matter how small.

We all experience stress very differently and sometimes it's not that simple to detect when we are stressed at all. It can affect us both emotionally, physically and behaviourally. Some of these signs might actually be mistaken for illness.

It's sometimes very simple to recognise stress in someone else but not so easy to recognise stress in yourself.

A little stress is often good as it keeps us alert and on our toes but chronic stress (when you are stressed very frequently), can have a lasting effect on our bodies both physically and mentally.

Here is how you can recognise signs of stress that you may not appear to have thought of!

No energy or constant tiredness

Having no energy is your body's way of telling you it's stressed out!


Often, insomnia and vivid dreams are common signs of stress. It's our brains' way of telling us that it's overworked and cannot relax. If you've recently been suffering from the inability to sleep, you may be stressed.

Mood swings and irritability

Stress can shorten our fuses, often to the point of snapping at something very minor. That's not to say that any time you are irritated you are stressed, but if it's constant and irrational, you should stop and think - is this linked to stress?

Concentration problems

If you are having a hard time concentrating persistently, this is a known sign of stress.

Your brain is having a hard time focusing on what you should be because your mind may be wandering back to the cause of stress.


Stress does funny things to our hormones and can often make us break out in spots. If you have had a sudden spat of acne anywhere on your body out of nowhere, this probably is down to stress.

The worst thing to do is get stressed even more about your acne, so find the source of the stress and once you have it resolved, your acne should clear up.

Picking up a fidgety habit

If you've noticed you have picked up a habit recently such as biting your nails or clenching your fists, this could be your body's way of trying to deal with the high levels of stress energy built up.

These are only a few of the less obvious signs of stress. There are plenty more but the idea is to be able to recognise differences in the way your body is acting and question whether this may be linked to stress.

We cannot completely eliminate stress from our lives, but you can control the way it affects you. Remember, a little stress in our lives is not something to worry about.

However, if you are persistently stressed and it's affecting your daily life, you should take steps to treat and deal with stress.

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Open Study College (OSC) have been leading the way in distance learning since 2007. Our team comprises of expert tutors, knowledgeable student advisers and a friendly student support team. Between us we have decades upon decades of experience in education and remote learning. Our blog is designed to help and guide you along the right path for you, by providing information, helpful tips and inspirational student success stories.

How to recognise signs of stress