Resilience | Dealing with emotional stress

We all experience stress at various points in our lives. Here's how to recognise emotional stress and build the resilience needed to face it.

While we do need a certain level of stress in our lives, if we face continuous challenge without relief, stress can build up and become negative. This can lead to a condition called distress – a negative stress reaction.

This type of stress can significantly impact our lifestyle and emotional wellbeing. Everyone will experience stress differently, but there are certain signs and symptoms to look out for when it comes to identifying emotional stress.


Changes in behaviour

You may notice changes in your behaviour, for example. This can include constant irritability with people either at work or at home, or finding it difficult to concentrate and stay focused at work. You may also feel demotivated and unable to cope with day-to-day tasks, or a lack of interest in doing the things you once enjoyed.

Emotional impact

Stress can also play out in your emotions. This can result in recurring feelings of worry, anxiety, self-doubt, frustration and being overwhelmed. You might feel a bit lost or without purpose in life and even find yourself over or under eating. Any of these emotional responses can consume a large part of your energy, dull day-to-day experiences and impact our personal and professional lives.


The good news is, by taking active steps to look after our health and wellbeing we can learn to reduce the impact of stress on our life by managing external pressures and developing our emotional resilience – the ability to adapt and bounce back during times of change and adversity.

There are some techniques that are proven to help:

Work/life balance

Maintaining a good work/life balance is essential to resilience. When we make time for ourselves and to do the things we enjoy we are more productive in all areas of our lives. It is important to take regular breaks at work, have lunch away from the desk and leave the office at an appropriate time each day.

Taking breaks at work also helps with another key action for resilience – exercise. Regular moderate exercise helps to break down stress hormones and promote the release of mood enhancing hormones, helping to reduce tension.

Mind games

Challenging ourselves mentally can help to make us feel more positive too. Exercising our minds encourages the growth of new cells, keeping our minds healthy. So stimulating our brains with activities such as puzzles and crosswords or learning a new hobby or skill can help to boost mental fitness.


Rest is just as important as exercise. Sleep is our body’s chance to recharge. Without it we feel less productive, have lower energy levels and poor concentration. So try to get between seven and eight hours sleep a night. Try to avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol as they increase stress hormones in our body and interfere with the quality of our sleep and our body’s ability to recover.


Finally, Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment. Stress and anxiety are often caused by focusing too much on past events or worrying about the future, both of which are out of our control. By using techniques such as meditation, breathing and yoga we can help to manage our emotions in a more efficient way and get back to feeling our best.

Last updated Wednesday 24 February 2021