A stressed person working at a PC

What is stress?

"The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them."  - Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Stress can also be felt when too few demands are made. People can feel stressed when they are bored, under-valued or under-stimulated. Stress can also be caused by factors at work and at home, with the latter being the more frequent cause.

The effects of pressure at any time can be offset by a number of differing factors - for example, support systems in the home or work environment, by an individual's personality and by knowledge and use of coping mechanisms. Stress could be viewed as the balance between the pressures and these different factors.

People are different

What may be too much pressure for one person at a specific time may not be for another or even that same person at a different time.

The signs of stress

It is important  to spot the signs of stress in ourselves and others. Some of the symptoms of stress are:

Man drinking alcohol


  • Negative feelings
  • Disappointment with yourself
  • Tearfulness, sensitivity or aggression
  • Loneliness or withdrawal from social activity
  • Loss of motivation, commitment and confidence
  • Mood swings


  • Confusion
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory

Behaviour change

  • Change in eating habits
  • Increased smoking, drinking or drug taking
  • Behavioural mood swings
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Nervous behaviour
  • Changes in working behaviour - e.g. arriving late at work or absence
  • Reduced concentration

More information

The Health and Safety Executive have produced this video on how stress can affect individuals:
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) video

Are you stressed?

Why not find out by taking the test below?
NHS Stress Test

Sources of help if you are feeling stressed

Consider who you have around to help you. Below are a list of organisations that can help:



Royal Holloway, University of London logo

Contact us

Health and Safety Office

Royal Holloway

University of London



TW20 0EX

Tel: 01784 443828

Email: m.purcell



Are you stressed?

Why not find out by taking the NHS Stress Test