Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed?
Yea me too! I know that crushing feeling of too much to do too little time. There’s never-ending to-do lists, washing, cleaning, food to prepare, homework to help with and errands to run. Life gets pretty chaotic, and It is stressful.
In fact, just thinking about the word, stress, raises my blood pressure! Experts say a certain amount is good for you; it helps you focus your attention so you can quickly respond to a situation. Like those times when the kids are fighting way too close to your favourite vase!
Lately, though, my stress levels have morphed into the unhealthy kind I’m sure. There’s so much to get done all at once, I end up doing bits of everything and never actually achieving much at all.
So what is stress?
Stress is that heart pounding head-spinning feeling you get when you’re under too much physical or emotional pressure. That pressure turns into stress, and you become unable to cope. Lot’s of different things can cause you to feel stress such as money problems, work issues or relationship difficulties.
When you’re stressed, it gets in the way of managing your priorities.
There’s no medical definition of stress which sometimes makes it difficult to work out precisely what the cause is and how to best to deal with it.
One thing to keep in mind though is being highly stressed is closely linked to your mental health. It can cause mental health problems or make existing problems worse.
Coping with your day to day symptoms of your mental health problem, like managing your medication, Doctors appointments or other treatments can become extra stress its self.
Common signs you’re overstressed.
You could feel –
Irritable, aggressive or wound up a lot of the time
Anxious or depressed
Your thoughts race and you can’t switch off
Lonely or neglected
unable to enjoy life
You might behave by –
Snapping at people
Bite your nails (yuck!)
Eat too much or not enough
Be unable to concentrate or feel restless
You might cry over small things
Smoke, drink or use other substances more than normal
Physically you could get –
Headaches more often
Have chest pains
High blood pressure
Feel sick, dizzy or even faint!
Develop or suffer worsened symptoms of IBS
So what can you do?
First of all, be kind to yourself and give yourself grace, if I could underline that sentence 50 times I would!
It’s so important to understand your only human, and sometimes you put too much pressure on yourself to live up to the perceived perfection of other people thanks to social media!
Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of everyone else. If you are run down, tired and burnt out, where are you going to find the energy to take care of people relying on you?
For me, I find there’s a link between my level of stress and my parenting skills!
Did you know you should be actively performing some self-care at least three times a week? I’m not talking about spending tonnes of money at the salon or buying expensive handbags and stuff. Self-care can be about setting aside some time for yourself to have a bath in peace or watch the TV.
Yea yea, I know you’re probably thinking, when am I supposed to find the time to do that? However, that’s the point! You have to make it; It’s not selfish or self-indulgent it’s necessary.
Decide on a time and a place, and for the duration, you aren’t going to worry about all the other stuff you think you “should” be doing. Allow yourself that time without persecuting yourself and remember you’re allowed to care for yourself, it’s for your health and well-being.
Make a plan to deal with stress.
Have you ever heard of a self-care compass? I love this tool, writing down a plan of action for when you start to feel overwhelmed or overstressed is a great place to start.
By writing things down it makes it real, it makes it easier to remember, and you don’t have to store the information in your already chock-full brain!
The self-care compass.
N is for Negative though management
There’s a link between your interpretation of a situation and the way you think, feel and behave. This part of the compass is a reminder that stuff happens and to take a step back to manage your negative thoughts, giving yourself time to see a situation from a different view.
E is for Exercise and relation
This kind of goes without saying, exercise is a great stress reliever. You could join a gym if its’ financially viable, failing that go for a walk, run or bike ride.
Relaxation could be something as simple as soaking in a bath but do try to do something that will distract you and take your mind off everything, even for a short period.
Have a look at this massive list of stuff you can do here!
S is for Social support
Friends, everybody needs a friend who can offer a sympathetic ear over a fancy coffee! I know its easy to isolate yourself when your feeling stressed or depressed, but a supportive friend or family member could be just what you need.
W is for Work it out
Sometimes stress isn’t just in your head, and there’s and practical problem that needs to be solved. It helps to try and identify the problem then break it down into small manageable action steps. Think of who could help you with those steps.
Fill your toolbox
You can download a printable self-care compass from the toolbox. Take some time and think about how you will cope and manage stress in the future. Write down your ideas on how you’ll deal with each point in the space provided.
Once you’re done stick it somewhere, you can take a look at it when you get overwhelmed and stop stress taking over.
Self-help is a great place to start, but what if you need something extra?
Although stress isn’t a medical diagnosis and there’s no specific remedy for it, sometimes it’s only a small part of the problem. Being over-stressed can lead to Anxiety and Depression, and if you’re finding it very difficult to cope with things going on in your life right now, some treatments can help.
To access talking therapies, CBT and medication the first step is to have a chat with your doctor. The website mind.org.uk can help you make choices about treatment, understand your rights or reach out to sources of support.
Remember, you’ve survived your worst days so far and will continue too, but filling your toolbox with practical solutions will make it easier to handle in future. You’ve got this!