When it affects your health and your relationships it’s time to act.

It is hard to know when the pressures of work and family life have become too much. Stress can sneak up like background radiation. Many people don’t realise the extent of their exposure until something goes wrong with their health. Doctors tell us too much stress over too long can cause serious illness such as cancer and heart disease.

Medical alert

You are probably far too stressed when you have chest pains (see your doctor). Barring medical issues, that’s a big alarm bell-ringer for stress.

Stressed-out people often have belly to bowel problems  — that’s anything from reflux to diarrhoea.

Headaches and constant colds may be other signs.

Mind games

You might be too stressed if you can’t concentrate, if you’re depressed, or feeling overwhelmed or exhausted. Do you have trouble sleeping or do you sleep too much, especially by escaping to bed on the weekends?


You may be hitting your stress limits if you’re eating too much. As well as abusing food, alcohol or other drugs, you could be sabotaging yourself with behaviours, such as aggression. Are you finding yourself in more arguments or road rage? Are you irritable or do you have mood swings?

Ask a friend

Sounds simple, but it could be the reality check we all need. Ask a friend for an objective, non-sugar coated assessment. Be prepared to accept the answer, no matter how stressful it is.