Stress Awareness Month: Tips on Coping With High-Stress Levels
This month is Stress Awareness Month. From the 1st of April until the 30th many charities and consultants, GP’S and nurses spend the month highlighting what stress does and some of the issues it can cause.
In the last few months, stress levels for many of us have been pretty high. Everything with the coronavirus has turned many people’s lives upside down and inside out. For some it’s the loss of jobs, change in routine, living under the same roof with loved ones for 24 hrs per day and trying to balance working from home and managing children’s home school day that has put the fear of god into some of us.
I always laugh and joke that stress makes me thrive in somewhat unpredictable situations. In the long run that has got me into trouble, my illness is flaring, my anxiety is through the roof and I have been taking on more and more work within care and that’s all landed me into one situation that could have been avoided.
In certain situations, I really do need to learn to say no and in this case, I have not. It has taken for me to hit death con one, can’t physically cope any more with the work demand and I need to rest. I am used to working at home with a computer and using my brain. My body isn’t cut out for 4-5 hrs of driving per day and managing 15 clients.
When I said I was knackered, fatigued and not feeling quite right I got the usual, your young and your fit, stop moaning and complaining.
Now that set my stress levels off no end. I am stressing because in the certain situation I should have used my backbone I was born with, but at the same time, I have been taught to not disrespect my elders so I just carry on as normal.
I stress at the thought of letting people down, I stress at myself for letting myself get to this point, I then stress over the stress then have added stress because my loved ones at home miss me and can see and have been vocal about myself running myself into the ground and becoming ill in the process. In some situations this is a never-ending vicious circle unless we can see it and make a break from it.
Because of me being ill and constantly moaning I am tired and a now confirmed Crohn’s flare, I have been dropped like a brick because I am currently of no use and it’s hurting me and stressing me out because that certain person won’t currently answer the phone to my phone calls.
For those of us with a chronic illness I feel we push more than we are supposed too and in some aspects we are grateful to be working and grateful to be able to carry on with work regardless of how tired or fatigued we are.
What are the symptoms of stress?
There is a thing where moderate stress levels are good for us, keep us motivated and activated to partake in some of the challenges that are sent to try us in day to day life. But then if the stress levels are increased and running at that level for extended periods of time then that can cause harm.
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Have racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating
- Being Irritable
- Feeling constantly worried, anxious or scared
- A lack of self-confidence
- Having trouble sleeping or feeling tired all the time
- Avoid things or people you are having problems with
- May be eating more or less than normal
- Drink or smoke more than usual
Is this something that more of us live with and manage because it feels a part of normal everyday life?
Is this something brought on by expectations that are too high? Is this because that’s how life should be lived?
I think for many of us with the current UK lockdown in place, having to be at home as we have no other choice may well change the UK and peoples priorities for the better. I love being home, I love not having to go out, drive, be social, it is nice to have a lovely long rest. Admittedly this solo home time will also help to lower the stress and get on top of my anxiety with much-needed medication.
There is never anything wrong with asking for help. I have asked for it because I know that it is impacting me and it is also impacting those around me.
Things you can do to help alleviate stress levels:
- – Allow yourself some positivity: Think of three things that bring you happiness or joy in that day and keep a written note or a jar full of positive things to look at when you are feeling low
- – Plan ahead: Things like a weekly or day to day calendar to split up tasks, work schedules, plan dates for social gatherings or prepare weekly food plans
- – Talk to someone: We all have at least that one person we trust to talk through things, those who don’t judge and listen openly and offer alternative scenarios or just good solid advice
- – Be more active: Endorphins released through exercise help to boost mood and also help to bust the stress levels, it doesn’t completely get rid of the stress but it will help to alleviate some of it
- – Challenge unhelpful thoughts or emotions: I typically do this by writing things down and finding either a constructive way to help or a positive emotion to help with this
- – Split up big tasks: By writing them down and splitting them into chunks can help you manage them and give you a boost for the tasks completed
There are also numerous charities that have helplines for you to phone into to help you if you feel isolated or alone.
Sitting down writing this as well as asking for help recently has made me realise that I am not invincible. I am human. I will now be actively working to decrease my stress levels and if that means losing one job after the way I was spoken to today then so be it. My life, my free time and my mental health are worth so much more than the stress levels I have been experiencing the last six months or so. The problem with the work is that I care too much about the clients, I take my work home with me and the constant phone calls and getting asked to cover more and more work when I have just been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia along with long-running arthritis. The next 12 weeks on lockdown are now going to be given some food for thought as to how I progress with work-life going forward. I absolutely love my blogging, it’s convenient, it’s home-based and it’s another job that I love with less stress because the team I work with understands my limitations and are totally amazing.
If you have any questions, or if you ever need to talk my inbox is always open, so is my email account.
Many thanks for reading
For more advice on dealing with mental health issues, please visit the Mind website