Why Stress is Bad For Us
Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” I have no doubt that we all know what stress is and we have all probably experienced it at some time or another in our life. In fact, it is actually important for us to experience stress as it is key to our survival. However, too much stress on our body can cause a litany of detrimental effects including weakening the immune system, depression, anxiety and high blood pressure, to name just a few. Stress that lingers for weeks and months will not only affect our physical health but cause additional pressure on our mental health, which in turn puts further stress on us. A vicious cycle ensues and it can be so difficult to break out of this never-ending circle.
Whilst stress can have a negative impact in large doses, on a smaller scale it can motivate us to achieve our daily goals and smaller challenges that we face on a day-to-day basis. Whether you are facing long-term stress related to being a caregiver or coping with a chronic illness or the only stresses you currently face is as a result of your day to day life, it is important to
Stress As A Caregiver
Being a caregiver to a family member is generally borne from our want to care for those that have cared for us. It can come with many rewards and the knowledge that we are allowing our family member to remain in their own home is one that many people take huge comfort from. However, just because you are choosing to care for someone does not mean that you are exempt from the stresses and strains that go hand in hand with being a full-time caregiver. The shift in roles and responsibility can be difficult to cope with and can add stress and strain in ways you may never have thought of.
Taking on the care of someone who may have several complex medical needs and requires to be managed by more than one medical team and has to attend medical appointments regularly can have huge implications for a caregiver who is already leading their own life. Having no contact with others in a similar position can just compound the exhaustion, loneliness and frustration that you experience, which in turn leads to more stress. Whilst I always encourage people to attend support groups to allow them to connect and learn from people who are experiencing similar situations, I also encourage them to practice self-care regularly to help reduce the physical and mental effects of stress and that they get into the habit of regularly carving time out for themselves.
Side Effects of Stress
We are now aware that there are two types of stress that we can deal with – daily stressors of life, which is needed for us to function. We refer to this as the ‘good’ stress. The ‘bad’ stress is long-term over weeks, months and sometimes years and it has a detrimental effect on not only our mental health but our physical health too. Do you know how to recognise what stress looks like when it is shown as physical systems? A handy tip is to pin, screenshot or save the graphic below so that you have it to hand should you ever need it.
If you don’t know by now, self-care is any activity that we do deliberately which has a positive impact on our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. In recent years, it seems that self-care has become a bit of a buzzword and it has been used to sell many different products, ideas and lifestyles, however, the concept has been around for a long time and chances are you are partaking in it without even realising. Every time you do something to make yourself feel better it is considered to be self-care.
As a caregiver, it is vital that self-care is built into your daily routine. Doing it when you remember is fine, but wouldn’t it be amazing to know that you have those 10 (or more) minutes to yourself every day to ensure that your mind is clear and that your only focus is yourself? When we care for others, be it our children or our parents, we tend to put everyone’s needs ahead of ours and before we know it 6 weeks have gone by and the only time you get to yourself is when you are on the toilet and even then it can be difficult.
Doing something for yourself doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t have to leave the house if you don’t want to, or can’t and you don’t need to spend money. What you do need to do is ensure that you schedule your self -care into your day so that you don’t forget about it. I have created a download that you can put on your fridge
7 Ways to De-Stress in 10 Minutes
Finally, I hear you say! I am giving you my 7 favourite ways to spend 10 minutes de-stressing. If you are a long time reader, you will know that I believe in explaining the why before I get to the how. In my experience, people find it easier to do the how when they understand the effects on the body and why we must incorporate these aspects of care into our daily lives. There are literally thousands of ways for you to help de-stress, but I feel that sometimes when we have to sit down and actually come up with ways to care for ourselves, it can be difficult to think of what would be considered as ‘self-care’. The truth is that anything that gives you joy, allows your mind to wander or be given relief from stressful situations and makes you feel better, can be considered as a way to de-stress. Below are my favourite ways to spend 10 minutes. Use them as they are or use them as inspiration for your own list.
A quick walk outdoors, away from all distractions, can be amazing for just calming yourself down
I am a caregiver. I go out to work and care for people and then come home and care for my family. Somedays (and weeks) constantly giving myself to others and tending to their needs non-stop is incredibly difficult and tiring. Whilst I would never change what I do for the world, spending my life taking on the problems of others and helping them to adjust, fix and solve leaves me with nothing to give to my own family and I don’t like feeling that way. In recent months I have found that spending time meditating between leaving work and coming home to be a fantastic way of leaving my work stress behind me and allowing myself to give 100% to Alex, Emma and Michael.
Want to begin meditating but don’t know where to start? Check out this YouTube Video.
Relaxation is something that I have been doing since I was a student nurse. When I worked in acute mental health facilities, relaxation therapy was part of our daily care plan for the majority of clients. Initially, it can be hard to get into the habit of clearing your mind completely and focusing on your breathing and muscles but once you start doing it, the benefits are great. My muscles are always tense and my shoulders reside around my ears but when I regularly practice relaxation, the relief that I feel physically and mentally is fantastic. I use the Feel Stress-Free app for relaxation. There is a monthly charge but it is designed by mental health professionals, which is important to me. When I am deciding upon services that impact my health in any aspect,
Some people find that during the practice of self-care, they read books on self-development and furthering themselves and their abilities. For me, I just want to read. I love reading just about any genre and books have always given me the ability to get completely lost in the story, so this is the perfect way for me to spend time. I will mention that I try to give myself more than 10 minutes for reading otherwise it eats into my