People's stress thresholds vary. For some people the pressures of everyday life are stressful, others cope with amazing challenges without feeling stress. A certain amount of stress keeps us active and alert but most people say they are most stressed at the point when they feel they are no longer in control.

Stress can be extremely damaging to relationships, whether it comes from within the relationship itself or from external sources such as worries over work, money, children or personal image.

Whilst a good, strong relationship can help to prevent stress, if stress levels become too great, people can become irritable, uncommunicative and physically detached thus putting a strain on the relationship.

What are the main causes of stress?

  • Excessive pressure at work or anxiety regarding job security
  • Money worries
  • Unhappy or difficult relationships
  • Anxieties about health or illness
  • Being a carer for others
  • Life events such as moving home, death, marriage
  • Concerns about children or other family members
  • Bullying
  • High expectations of self or from others
  • Concerns about body image

But how exactly do you know you are stressed?

There are many common symptoms including:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Depression
  • Constant anxiety
  • Lack of libido
  • Physical symptoms, headaches, palpitations, panic attacks, sweating
  • Vagueness and memory problems
  • Inability to sleep or excessive sleep
  • Repetitive habits e.g. nail biting
  • Listlessness and fatigue
  • Irritability and short temper

The first step in dealing with stress is recognising that there is a problem, however these symptoms can have other underlying causes and it is important if you have several of these symptoms that you consult your GP. Your GP will be able to diagnose the cause of your symptoms and treat you accordingly.

If stress is diagnosed, they can help you to find ways to cope with and reduce your stress, including advice on your lifestyle, time off work, referral to a counsellor or medication.

Many people suffer silently in relationships when the support of a partner could be the thing that could make a real difference. Talking to your partner is a good start. Here are some other simple stress busting tips that can help to keep your stress levels under control.