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Stress is unavoidable at times, but when it becomes constant and unmanageable it can negatively affect our physical and mental health. Here we look at stress and how to treat it.

What is stress?

One way to describe stress is as a state of heightened alertness. Such a state can be helpful at times. However, if stress is constant over a long period, it can quickly become exhausting.

A recent UK survey showed that 74% of adults have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope at some point over the past year. 32% responded they had experienced suicidal feelings as a result of stress. These are signs of a serious public health crisis.

It is important to pay attention to physical symptoms such as skin rashes that show that stress is too high. Fortunately, therapy is available to teach us how to deal with it.

Stress and its physiological consequences

Stress activates the body’s fight or flight response, which in turn can lead to a variety of physical and mental symptoms. High blood pressure, heart palpitations, and skin problems such as eczema and rashes can be stress signals.

Read more here specifically about long-term stress, stress management and stress at work.

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How stress leads to skin rashes

When you are stressed, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can cause inflammation and irritate your skin, sometimes leading to skin rashes or a worsening of existing skin problems such as eczema.

Symptoms to look out for

  • Rashes or redness on the face and other parts of the body.
  • Eczema or other skin conditions.
  • Increased oil production, which can lead to acne.
  • Hair loss or thinning hair.

Psychological tools for managing stress

Talking to a professional therapist will give you tools to understand and manage your symptoms. Even if symptoms are severe, these tools can greatly improve your quality of life and make it easier to cope with the fast pace of everyday life.

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Consider the following

  • Practising breathing exercises or mindfulness to reduce your stress levels
  • Move regularly; exercise is a natural stress reducer.
  • Talk to a professional therapist or psychologist if you feel your situation is unsustainable.

Next steps

Stress is not just a mental state, it has a real and measurable impact on your physical health. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to skin rashes or other physical symptoms you think may be stress-related. It might be time to take the next step. Lavendla makes it easy to book an online session with one of its qualified psychologists or therapists who are available to help you work through your stress. Together we will make the difficult easier.

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10 common questions about stress

What exactly is stress?

Stress is a natural reaction of the body when faced with challenges or threats and it activates the body’s defense system. But if it is a u003ca href=u0022https://lavendla.se/stress/langvarig-stress/u0022u003elångvarig stressu003c/au003e or chronic, it can lead to health problems and should be managed effectively.

What are the most common symptoms of stress?

The most common symptoms of stress include headaches, sleep problems, stomach problems and increased heart rate. There may also be emotional symptoms such as irritability and reduced concentration.

How can I reduce stress in everyday life?

One way is to identify stressors (things that stress you out) and work to reduce or eliminate them. Regular physical activity, good sleep and relaxation techniques such as meditation can also help.

What are stress-related diseases?

Stress can lead to a range of diseases and conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. It can also exacerbate mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Is stress dangerous in the long term?

Yes, long-term or chronic stress can have serious health effects. It can affect everything from your immune system to your cardiovascular system and can lead to long-term problems.

How does stress affect working life?

By reducing productivity, increasing absenteeism and reducing the quality of work, stress can have a significant impact on work. It is therefore important that your workplace has resources and methods to help you deal with it.

Is there positive stress?

Yes, what is known as ‘eustress’ can motivate and improve performance. It is different from negative stress reactions, which can be harmful to health.

What role does diet and nutrition play in managing stress?

A balanced diet rich in nutrients can help the body better manage stress. Specific foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins can be particularly helpful.

Can stress affect relationships?

Yes, stress can lead to tension in relationships as it can make you more irritable, impatient or even isolated. It is important to communicate openly with loved ones about your stress levels.

Where can I seek help for my stress?

If you are experiencing prolonged or severe stress, it is recommended to seek professional help.

Step-by-step guide to managing stress

Stress is a common condition that affects many of us, regardless of our lifestyle or working conditions. But it is important to understand that stress is not inevitable. Psychologists and therapists use effective tools to help you manage it and improve your quality of life. Below is a step-by-step guide to treating stress:

Identification of stressors

Write down situations, people or tasks that trigger stress for you. Then prioritise these points to identify the most pressing stressors.


Contact a psychologist or therapist for a professional assessment. You will discuss your symptoms and stressors to get an individualised treatment plan.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Learn basic breathing techniques, mindfulness exercises or tapping/havening. Although not magical solutions, these techniques help to reduce symptoms once you learn how to use them.

Physical activity

Therapists often recommend you incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine. This is because exercise helps to release endorphins, which naturally reduce stress.

Diet and sleep

Keep a balanced diet and ensure good quality sleep. Poor diet and sleep can exacerbate symptoms.

Set limits

Learn to say no to tasks and obligations that increase your stress level. Use planning techniques to balance work and leisure.

Monitoring and adjusting

Continue to have regular meetings with your psychologist or therapist. Adjust your treatment plan based on your progress and any new stressors.

Lavendla – Making the difficult easier

Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.