Stress is a human mechanism to increase our effectiveness – even when we may not be on top-form.

Stress is good until you have too much of it

(think of stress as being like the fuel in your car – too much and it floods and won’t go!) Excess-stress is often noticed as a feeling of just not being able to cope.

Stress can be useful – yet too much stress can shorten our lives.


The term ‘Stress’ is often used in a negative context but a certain amount of stress is good for our motivation and absolutely necessary for us to achieve anything at all. What we need to look at is ‘excess stress’ – when it feels like what we have to do is too much.

Stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably so it’s useful to know the difference.

What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?


is the body’s natural response to life’s demands. A short-term stress response to a situation can be positive – giving you that extra push to meet a deadline that you thought impossible – and stress dissipates once the situation is resolved.


is a ‘thinking style’ that is a threat to our emotional wellbeing. It stems from internal events like judging ourselves as not being able to cope with what’s going to happen and feeling fearful. When we are anxious, we are usually telling ourselves a story with a terrible ending – and believing it’s the truth with a capital T.
Whereas stress disperses once a situation is resolved, the feeling of anxiety (and the thoughts that go with it) can just shift its focus to another story with a terrible ending. Anxiety is a fear of what we perceive might happen in the future and it can become overwhelming and paralysing.

When does stress become damaging?

What is excess stress?

The effects of excess stress can be destructive and harmful. How much stress we can cope with is individual and our resilience to stress is made up of many different factors. Once we find ourselves in an excess stress situation (maybe the feeling that you can’t deliver all the constant ‘want it yesterday’ demands of a critical boss) we go past the point of stress spiking up our performance, and instead it impedes us and makes us less able and productive.

Long periods of excess stress can lead to anxiety and other serious negative impacts on both our mental and physical health – including shortening our lifespan.

Symptoms of excess stress

Having one or two of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you are experiencing excess stress. However, if you are concerned we would always recommend you check with your GP.


Rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing
Muscle tension
Chronic pain e.g. ongoing backache
Degestive problems
Susceptibility to illness
Decreased energy
Loss of sexual desire
Chest pain
High blood pressure


Excessive worry
Increased irritability
Frequent low mood
Easily frustrated
Low motivation
Difficulty relaxing
Digestive problems
Feeling of losing control or wanting to take control


Over- or under-eating
Increased use of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes
Poor concentration
Forgetfulness and/or disorganisation
Poor judgement
Social withdrawal

So what can we do about excess stress?

How can our ELK-Health stress programme and our ELK clinics help?

Our ELK-Health programme Erg will help people all over the world manage their stress – and turn it into a positive part of their lives. Delivered and supported by an app with games, it is engaging way of learning skills to manage stress.
Through our ELK clinics (online or face-to-face) you’ll be able to work with a qualified therapist who can help you learn to change how you react to ‘too much stress for too long’ and improve your resilience.
ELK-Health programmes and clinics use science-based approaches, supporting you as you change your behaviour and improve your emotional and physical health and well-being.


our online programme for stress delivered via an app with games. WE AIM TO HAVE THIS OPEN AUTUMN 2020


our online clinic.


our face-to-face clinic.