Apparently, I’m suffering from stress.
*All gasp in shock*
I know, right? Didn’t bat an eyelid.
I spoke to a doctor and have subsequently looked up the Mind web page on stress as well as the NHS version. Here are just some of the symptoms but naturally, everyone is different so if you think you could need a little help then please call your GP.
- Irritability, aggressiveness, impatience. Or just that feeling of being wound up.
- Anxious and nervous.
- Thoughts racing all the time and you can’t switch off your brain.
- Unable to enjoy yourself in situations you typically love.
- A sense of dread.
- Avoiding situations that you wouldn’t normally find stressful.
- Finding it hard to make decisions.
- Lacking in concentration
- Irregular (for you) eating habits.
- Shallow of breath/hyperventilating combined with a possible rapid heartbeat.
- Panic attacks.
- Sleep problems.
- Sore eyes.
- Tired and lethargic.
- High blood pressure.
- Feeling sick/dizzy/faint
As I said, this is just a shortened version of a very long list and what you may feel varies from person to person. Deep down I think you know when you aren’t feeling quite right.
Now, I am in no way undermining the severity of this sort of problem but in my true to form attitude towards self care I totally created a check list of symptoms to see how many I could tick off. I’m too afraid to tell you my result!
So what can you do for stress?
An obvious one is to try and rest as often as you can. I know…I laughed at that one to. Rest?! If you have children, let alone children with special needs then resting isn’t exactly easy however it’s really important to make sure you have at least some down time in your life. Even if that means going to bed half an hour earlier than normal and reading. Or taking a bath each evening and just slowing down a bit.
Some of the things suggested to me were the following:
- Yoga – I love yoga. I used to go to a fantastic class every week but then typical to many people, work kind of took over that day and there disappeared my yoga. I need to do it again. I remember how strong it made me feel, it’s a wonderful tool that I think everyone should try in their life.
- Breathing exercises – Makes you feel like a bit of an idiot to mention you do an exercise for your breathing BUT give it a go and see what you think. HERE is a link to a suggested breathing exercise on the NHS website. I haven’t tried this yet so I’ll let you be my guinea pigs.
- Diet – Are you eating enough valuable foods? I feel pretty confident that my diet is good, you know what I’m like and most definitely take in enough fruit and vegetables. Living, colourful foods are the ones that make you feel the best. Eat a range of colours in your day and lay off the caffeine, sugar and processed ready made products. I drink tea every day and no one in the world is going to take that away from me so I guess it’s just limiting it or countering each tea with a glass of water.
- CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) – I’m not familiar with this but I know several people who have said it really helped them. My problem, along with many other parents, is finding a time that you can actually attend sessions! I’d love to know if any of you have tried it. CBT looks at your thoughts and beliefs and connects this with your feelings and behaviours. Through understanding your mind processes, coping strategies are discussed and hopefully put into place. HERE is a link to a little video if you think it may help.
- Mindfulness – I used a lot of mindfulness in preparation for my labour with Emmeline. I say “used” but actually, that’s a stupid word as I should really have incorporated it fully into my life! Mindfulness changes the way you word things, the way you look at things and ultimately how you see and experience situations. Here is a fantastic website that tells you all about it. It gives you fantastic coping mechanisms for stressful situations.
- Ecotherapy – now THIS is my kind of thing. I’ve never heard of it before but know for a fact that being out in the fresh air automatically makes me feel happy. I’ve often mentioned to my mum how content I feel in the allotment. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that fresh air and nature will lighten anyone’s stress load. And it’s basically that. Improving your well-being through outdoor activities such as exercise, gardening or taking part in larger conservation projects. There are ecotherapy organisations across the country. Here is a link to one of them but there are several and you can find one near you using this Mind map.
- Complementary therapies – Often scoffed at but absolutely adored by many. Here is an article on the use of aromatherapy for stress. Some of the best oils that can be used to relieve stress are lavender, lemon, bergamot, yang-ylang, clary sage and jasmine. Obviously, there are other treatments than just aromatherapy. Many feel that massage, Indian head massage and acupuncture (along with others) can have fantastical beneficial effects on the mind. They are holistic therapies and therefore take in the body and mind as a whole.
So that’s it really. Please have a look at some of the links I’ve included if you think they may help. I know it isn’t easy to think of your own health, especially when you have children with special needs. You hit the bottom of the list like a lead weight but in reality, you are still important and need to take care of yourself.
I need to find time to fit in some of the above and would absolutely love to hear your stories of keeping stress to a minimum.