Stress is a part of life. It happens to everyone every day as we cope with ordinary events, interact with people and meet all kinds of demands. But too much stress can affect our physical and mental health.


Stress can occur anytime. There are certain periods when we are more susceptible to stress, for example during exam periods, festive seasons, when someone in the family is ill and during crisis and emergencies.

Signs of Stress

  • Aches and pains
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue/lethargy
  • Palpitations
  • Stomach upsets
  • Dizziness
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Irritability
  • Depression and moodiness
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Restlessness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor concentration
  • Mental blocks
  • Difficulty in organising and making decisions
  • Sleep problems
  • Crying
  • Poor appetite or the opposite, increase in appetite
  • Falling ill — colds, coughs
  • Withdrawal
  • Smoking/drinking excessively

Causes of Stress

External sources of stress could include:

  • Personal problems
  • Work problems
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Pressure of studies
  • Health problems
  • Financial crisis
  • Unemployment
  • Losses, e.g. bereavement
  • Unexpected news
  • Daily hassles

Internal sources of stress could include the following:

  • Thinking styles
    • Negativity: "I'm useless, a loser, a failure."
    • Suspicion: "Why are they so nice to me?"
  • Social skills
  • Shyness, unassertiveness
  • Aggressiveness, bossiness
  • Personality type
    • Type A: hostile, impatient, constantly multitasking, always on the go, competitive, overly responsible
    • Type B: laid-back, introspective, calm, easy-going
    • Type C: calm on the outside, agitated inside; often suppresses and doesn't express feelings

Learning How to De-stress

As stress is an inevitable part of our lives, it is necessary to arm ourselves with the necessary skills to counter it. The following eight tips can help you to manage your stress.

  1. Know yourself: self-awareness, recognition and acceptance of ourselves are important for stress management. We need to know what makes us react to stress
  2. Renew (reprogramme) your mind: being able to recognize and change our negative thinking styles will alter our feelings, and eventually reactions, to the sources of stress
  3. Seek balance and flexibility: stress can be the result of a sense of loss and insecurity. Be more flexible in matching your response to the context and situation
  4. Have goals, dreams and passion: goals provide us with a sense of direction and perspective, and give us a greater sense of control and purpose
  5. Get supporters: we are social beings and we function best when we are surrounded by supportive family or friends
  6. Get a higher frame of reference: we can also receive assurance and hope from our spiritual beliefs. Many studies have confirmed that having a strong faith enhances our ability to cope with serious stress
  7. Look after your body: a healthy body is a natural defense against stress. Eating and sleeping well ensure better health and a sense of well-being. Regular exercise helps to build physical and mental strength against stress
  8. Use stress-coping strategies: it is important to have good coping strategies. These include:
    • Engaging in activities you enjoy
    • Practicing relaxation techniques
    • Talking to someone you trust
    • Engaging in physical exercises
    • Prioritizing tasks accordingly
    • Loving yourself
    • Seeking professional help

Where To Seek Help?

If you need more information/resources to help you cope, you can go to Belle, the Beyond the Label helpbot.

SOS (Samaritans of Singapore) also provides emotional support for those in crisis.

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Helplines

SOS (Samaritans of Singapore)1800 221 4444Daily24 hours
Email Befriending
SOS Messenger (SOS Care Text)

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