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Stress is a natural response to life's challenges, but when it becomes overwhelming, it can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being. Learning to recognise the signs of excessive stress and developing healthy coping strategies can help you navigate difficult times more effectively.

What is stress?

Stress is a common feeling we all experience at times. Some people see stress as a negative but in fact a little bit of stress can be very useful. In rugby we can often use it to our advantage to help us run faster, tackle harder and perform to our best.

Knowing how to use stress to support our performance is important, but we also need to know when and how to switch off. Too much long-term stress can affect us mentally as well as impact on our physical health too. 

What are the signs?

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  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Feeling on edge, anxious
  • Short-temper 
  • Trouble focusing on tasks
  • Frequent headaches 
  • Stomach aches
  • Feeling overwhelmed 
  • Increased heart rate
  • Eating more or less than usual 
  • Feeling less positive/optimistic
  • Feeling under pressure 
  • Noticeable changes in mood

Strategies to manage stress

Alongside the ways to wellbeing there are also a few tips that are particularly helpful when it comes to stress. Having these skills in our kete means we are more likely to be able to cope when feeling stressed, overwhelmed or when our sense of wellbeing is being impacted.

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Know your triggers

The reasons why you feel stressed can be very different from your mates. Knowing what makes you feel stressed can help you target where you need support.

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Check in regularly

There are often early signs our wellbeing is being impacted by stress. Setting up a weekly check‑in with yourself to gauge where your stress levels are can help you identify early and do something about it.

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Manage your time

Try focusing on one job at a time. Manage your week by using a calendar or diary and prioritise the things that are most important.

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Slow it down

Using practical strategies to calm your body’s physical response to stress is a great option. Yoga, deep breathing exercises, visualisation and meditation are all great ways to slow things down and reduce feelings of stress.

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Movement & Exercise

Exercise is a great way to relieve tension as well as get rid of excess adrenaline built up in the body often felt by people experiencing anxiety. Training and games are great, swimming and walking are good options too.

Getting it sorted

If you’ve tried the strategies above and are still experiencing stress, or feel like some extra support would be helpful, there are plenty of people and places out there that are ready to help. Learning how to manage your stress can take time but getting on top of it now can make things a lot easier in the long run. 

Speaking to trusted friends or family about how you’re feeling is a good way of making sure you’re well supported. Chances are they’ve experienced stress at some point in their lives too. 

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people you know or you think some professional help might be useful, there are lots of options out there. There’s a list of great support services here who will be able to help get you on the right track. Speaking to your GP is a good place to start too.