Stress is the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressure. It is a response to a specific external stressor(s) and is generally a temporary experience. Lifestyle changes and having coping strategies can reduce stress.

Anxiety has no identifiable cause and is considered to be a mental health issue and usually requires more than lifestyle changes to treat.

Some pressure can be motivating and energising (we get a ‘buzz’) but if the pressure is excessive, then stress can result. Stress at work has implications for the workplace as well as the individual, it contributes to absence, accidents, turnover and poor performance.

Stress can both cause problems and be the result of them. To help manage stress it can help to manage external stressors and try to become more emotionally resilient to be able to cope with tough situations. People’s ability to cope with stress varies.

Whilst stress isn’t a mental health condition, it is closely linked to mental health, stress can cause mental health problems, perhaps anxiety or depression and make existing problems worse.

When someone is stressed or anxious their bodies release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline (the flight or fight response). These hormones can have physical, psychological, and behavioural effects.

There might be one big thing causing someone’s stress, but stress can also be caused by a build-up of small pressures. Causes of stress can be physical, environmental, emotional, acute life events or chronic. This might make it harder to identify what is making someone feel stressed, or to explain it to other people.

Being resilient helps us to adapt in the face of difficulties. This involves lifestyle changes and looking after our physical health, having a break and building a support network.

It can help to identify the cause(es) of stress, this can help to take control of the situation. Doing nothing can make problems worse.

The NHS has a list of 'stress busters’

Exercise. This lowers the body’s stress hormones and releases endorphins that improve mood, can help sleep quality, help to feel more confident and improve mental wellbeing.

   Try to take some control, feeling a loss of control can contribute to stress

   Connect with people

   Avoid unhealthy habits – smoking, alcohol and caffeine. They will not help and may bring new problems

   Have some ‘me time’ for socialising, relaxation or exercise

   Challenge yourself to learn something new

   Help other people

   Work smarter not harder – prioritise tasks and manage your time

   Try to be positive

   Accept some things cannot be changed.

If you are struggling to cope with anxiety or panic, you should speak to your GP. Some types of anxiety disorder include Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There are therapies and medication that can help. Talking therapies include CBT, counselling and psychological therapies that your GP might consider helpful for you. There are conditions that are related to anxiety that might require specific treatment. 


Jo Johnston

I have been working in Human Resources for more than twenty years and I am now part of the team that (amongst other things) provides advice to members of the BVNA. I am qualified with the CIPD and have experience in a range of employment settings. Most of all I love the opportunity my job brings to meet people in many different walks of life and work. When I am not working, I love being out on Dartmoor with my dogs or in my garden and if the weather is bad,

I can be found in front of the television watching some good Nordic Noir Email:

DOI: 10.1080/17415349.2020.1850798 

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 35 • August 2020 •