As adults, we know all too well that overwhelming feeling, too much to do too little time.With never-ending to-do lists, meetings, homework, Cooking, cleaning … Life can become pretty chaotic.
Just thinking about the word stress raises my blood pressure! That said, a certain amount can be a good thing, helping us focus our attention so we can quickly respond to a situation, but lately, My stress level seems to have morphed into the unhealthy kind. It seems I have so much to do all at once; I just end up doing none of it.
So what is stress?
Stress is the feeling of being under too much physical or emotional pressure. Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. Many aspects of life can cause stress such as money problems, work issues or relationship difficulties. When we are stressed, it can get in the way of managing our responsibilities.
There is no medical definition of stress which can make it difficult to work out what exactly what the cause of your stress is and how to deal with it. We should, however, be aware that stress is also closely linked to your mental health in two important ways.
Stress can cause mental health problems and make existing problems worse.
For example, if you often struggle to manage feelings of stress you may develop a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression.
Mental health problems can cause stress.
You may find coping with the day-to-day symptoms of your mental health problem, together with potentially need to manage medication, health care appointments or treatments can become an extra source of stress.
Signs you might be stressed.
How you might feel.
- Irritable, aggressive or wound up
- Anxious or depressed
- Like your thoughts are racing, and you can’t switch off
- Neglected or lonely
- Unable to enjoy life
How you might behave.
- Snapping at people
- Unable to make decisions
- Biting your nails
- Eating too much or too little
- Unable to concentrate and restless
- Feeling tearful or crying
- Smoking or drinking more than usual
How you might be physically affected.
- Trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep
- Chest pains
- High blood pressure
- Feeling sick, dizzy or fainting
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Constipation or diarrhoea
What can you do?
First and foremost. Be kind to yourself! (If I could underline that sentence 50 times I would!)
We are all only human, and sometimes in today’s society, I think we all put too much pressure on ourselves to live up to fictional lives perceived on social media and the like…
Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of other people. If you’re run down, tired and burnt-out how on earth can you even start to take care of another human being?
We should be actively “taking care” of ourselves at least three times a week. This doesn’t mean we have to go out and spend large amounts of time at the salon, buy ourselves an expensive handbag or any other extravagant gesture. Self-care can be about setting aside time for yourself to watch your favourite programme on tv, read a chapter of a book or paint your nails. Deciding that for the duration we are going to allow ourselves that time without worrying or persecuting ourselves for not doing all the other “stuff”. It is about remembering; You are allowed and this time for you. It is for your health and wellbeing!
I recently attended a fantastic parenting course designed to help manage behavioural challenges of children with disabilities. The very first session taught me about the importance of this very subject, and so I was introduced to the Self-Care Compass. Let me explain!
N = Negative thought management
E = Exercise and Relaxation
S = Social support
W = Work it out
There is a link between our interpretation of a situation which affects how we feel and how we then behave. This part of the compass is a reminder to take a step back a manage these negative thoughts and take a different view. Hey, S**t happens!
Exercise and Relaxation
Kind of goes without saying, we all know exercise is great for relieving stress. Join a gym if this is financially an option. If not, take a brisk walk run, a bike ride, walk the kids to school a couple of mornings a week if possible. Relaxation could be something as simple as soaking in a bath; better still try doing something that will physically take your mind off your worries or concerns by distracting you e.g. a crossword, watching TV or blogging!
This can include people who support your by offering practical help. A friend who can offer a sympathetic ear over coffee, or you could try seeking out a local group or join a club.
Work it out
Sometimes it isn’t all in your head, and there is a practical problem that needs to be resolved. It often helps to identify the problem and break it down into small manageable steps. Think about whether there may be anyone who can help you with those steps.
Alternatively, there are services that could offer direct advice or support.
You can download and print out my version of the compass right here. Use the extra space to add your own ideas under each point. Once you’ve done, you should stick it somewhere that you can take a look at it when you feel stressed.
Stress isn’t a medical diagnosis; There’s no specific treatment for it. However, if you’re finding it very hard to cope with things going on in your life and are experiencing lots of signs of stress, there are treatments available that may help. These include:
Complementary and Alternative therapies
To access most treatments, the first step is usually to talk to your GP.
Mind.org.uk can help you make choices about treatment, understand your rights or reach out to sources of support.
I hope this helps you feel a little better if you’ve been feeling stressed lately. Try to put this information to good use. Stay well …”You’ve got this” 💖