Let’s Talk About Stress in English: 10 Expressions and Idioms

6 Jul 2017

How has your week been?

Has it gone smoothly or has it been stressful?

How about your year?


Are things going according to plan or do you feel like you don’t know whether you’re coming or going? That lack of direction can be very stressful, especially if, like me, you are someone who likes to be in control.


We all need some form of stress to keep us motivated and creative, but the wrong kind of stress can lead us to become depressed, overweight and unproductive in our careers and personal lives.


I know that when I feel stressed out, I become short-tempered (angry easily) and I take it out on (treat badly) my husband. Poor man! 


Not only is it unfair on him, but it’s also unfair on myself because I feel bad afterwards and the stressful situation is still there. Nothing has changed. All I have done is create bad tension at home.


Some people can deal with or manage stress much more easily than others. Some people have techniques to destress and unwind (relax) from a difficult day at work or a stressful period. They meditate, take regular breaks, exercise, and take a break from social media and their smartphones.


What do you do to de-stress? Which techniques have you found work well for you?

Stress often makes us feel angry or sad so some of these expressions refer to anger, irritability and annoyance whilst others refer to sadness or depression.



Here are the 10 expressions


#1: Have a lot on your plate

When you have a lot on your plate, it means you have a lot to do and that can cause stress and make you angry for the slightest thing.



#2: Snap someone’s head off

And this could cause you to snap someone’s head off more frequently. In other words, no one can have a decent conversation without you responding in an unreasonably angry way.

Tom: “Sally, did you manage to get that report to the client?”

Sally: “No, I didn’t! What do you take me for? Some kind of robot? Do you know what time I left the office last night?”

Tom: “Ok, I was only asking…there’s no need to snap my head off.”





#3: He/She gets on my nerves

There are some people who you tolerate at work and that’s ok. However, when you’re truly stressed out and under pressure, those same people can sometimes get on your nerves. In other words, they can really irritate you.

Can you think of anyone?



#4: They drive you crazy

“James is driving me crazy with his persistent messages. If I get one more What’s App message from him, I swear I’ll walk into his office, grab his smartphone and stick it in his coffee!”




#5: I’ve had it up to here

When there have been too many demands on your time and you truly can’t cope anymore and you snap. (lose control of your feelings and get angry).

“I’ve had it up to here with Katharine’s demands. She either accepts the situation as it is or she can leave.”



#6: My head’s about to explode

“I have been working on this proposal for the last 6 hours. I feel like my head’s about to explode. I need to get out of here.”


#7: I can’t take it anymore

“The workload in the last few months has been relentless. I just can’t take it anymore.”



#8: Have a lot on your mind

“I’m sorry I am not much fun this evening. It’s been a long and difficult week and I have a lot on my mind what with the merger and the talk of upcoming redundancies.”



#9: Not feeling yourself

“I want to apologise to everyone for the last few weeks. I know I’ve been in a bad mood and extremely touchy (sensitive) and that’s not normal for me. I hadn’t been feeling myself but things are better.”



#10: “I can’t stand it”.


“I can’t stand it when you arrive at every single meeting 15 minutes late and then spend the whole time scrolling through your phone not paying attention or participating. That’s just rude.”



Tell me

Are any of these expressions similar in your language?