There is nothing that I crave more than a Duvet Day when I am feeling stressed! It is important to understand and know how to manage stress in day to day lives before it can become dangerous and you could become very ill. With this in mind, Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 theme is: ‘Stress: are we coping?’ Their aim is to ensure that people are aware of what is means, what the signs are and provide some practical advice to manage and prevent it as they want to move towards a less stressed nation.
What is stress? According to the Mental Health Foundation website, Stress is described as a feeling of being under abnormal pressure. This pressure can come from different aspects of your day to day life. Such as an increased workload, a transitional period, an argument you have with your family or new and existing financial worries. You may find that it has a cumulative effect, with each every stress building on top of one another.
What are the signs? Everyone experiences stress. However, when it is affecting your life, health and wellbeing, it is important to tackle it as soon as possible, and while stress affects everyone differently, there are common signs and symptoms you can look out for:
- feelings of constant worry or anxiety
- feelings of being overwhelmed
- difficulty concentrating
- mood swings or changes in your mood
- irritability or having a short temper
- difficulty relaxing
- low self-esteem
- eating more or less than usual
- changes in your sleeping habits
- using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs to relax
- aches and pains, particularly muscle tension
Practical advice – There are a a number of steps to take when feeling stressed and a number of steps to help protect you from stress by going onto the Mental Health Foundation website: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-manage-and-reduce-stress – Go online via the link to download your free ‘How to manage and reduce stress’ booklet which contains 101 top tips provided by the public on how to manage stress. You may find there may be a number of ones which you already do and a number of ones that might be great to try. (see below for the ones that I use).
I often feel stressed as I constantly worry whether I am succeeding at my job? can I afford to live the lifestyle I want? is Liberty okay? am I doing the right things by my body to give her the best chance? Am I a good friend? etc and the list goes on!
There was a time where I allowed myself to get so stressed that I ended up having 3 months off work. With my Bipolar, I do have situations where I go manic and I believe that I can do whatever I want. One manic episode was when I decided to continue my university studies to top up my HND to become a BA (Hons). This meant I was required to attend university for at least 2 days a week for one year to attend lectures and study groups to complete the top up in the form of a dissertation. This doesn’t sound all that bad however my university was in London and I had a full-time job in York and lived in Harrogate at the time. It required me to travel down to London twice a week on coaches and trains and pay for hotels. I took annual leave to cover the days I needed off work and continued to work full time to ensure my job wasn’t hindered by working late on evenings and at weekends.
I think I managed about 2 ½ months working like this before I had my stress breakdown. I remember the night well when it all hit me! I was sat emailing staff from work at 10pm asking if they wanted a flu jab for the flu clinic I was setting up and not even realised that my tea had been sat there for an hour and at the point of noticing, it was freezing cold. I decided to shut off my computer and go for a shower. I was too tired to even stand and just sat there and cried. My housemate came into the bathroom as noticed that there was lots of steam filling the flat and then realised that the water temperature must have been at least 40 degrees! I couldn’t feel a thing, I was just numb. She put me to bed and then in the morning I realised that I needed help and fast.
This was a very scary time of my life and I realised that I needed to slow down and not worry as much as I did, only take on as much as I physically could and most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Reviewing some of the ideas from the 101 top tips, these are the ones that I personally use to help me manage my stress levels:
- WRITING THIS BLOG 👩🏻💻
- Writing down everything that is bothering me and going through the list to eliminate things that I physically can’t change, eliminate things that can be easily resolved and then you will be left with the ones that need your attention and can plan to resolve the issues. 📝
- soaking in the bath with a lush bath bomb. 🛀🏻
- Talking to someone to vent a little (obviously with someone I know and I do ask first) 🤬
- Going for a run. I haven’t been able to for a while due to Liberty and my dodgy hips but once she is here, I want to start again. 🏃🏻♀️
- I sometimes like to go sit in a coffee shop and people watch to distract me from my own life and watch the world go by. ☕️🌍
One thing I need to do but yet to try is unplugging my phone! I think I might to be more stressed if I didn’t have it! ONE DAY! I promise!