14th December 2017Category: Working Carers
Stress can hit us at different times in our life from the deadline of a work presentation to coping with a terminal illness in the family. Stress levels vary but so does the advice that is dished out from colleagues and friends (or the internet). I bet you have heard phrases like ‘just stop worrying’ but you can’t just switch off your mind and thoughts, in fact supressing your thoughts makes it worse. So this week we are looking at the worst advice people have said about stress and what you could do instead as well as what West Cumbria Carers can offer in support.
1. Have a glass of wine tonight…it will help you to relax.
Having a glass of wine at the end of the day might feel good in the moment but it doesn’t help you in the long term. It is same with smoking or surviving on your caffeine fix. The problem is one glass will often lead to two and before you know it, you NEED to have a bottle of wine every Friday night. Stress has an impact on our bodies but alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine has too. The vices are a temporary crutch and won’t help you to tackle the cause of the stress.
It might be that you need to adapt your work schedule to relieve the pressure of your caring role or you need to talk to someone professionally as you can’t sleep due to the worry. Facing the cause of the stress will help rather than prolonging it with a glass of wine.
2. Ignore the problem...it will probably go away
‘I will deal with that bill next week’ or trying to put an argument with a family member to the back of your mind. These are examples of ignoring a problem. The issue is, the more you ignore a problem, the bigger it becomes. It sits in your brain and festers. Ignoring the problem also builds the idea that you are losing control over the situation and can lead to more stress.
What can you do instead? First thing is to go outside and go for a walk. Fresh air and sunlight can do wonders to the body. Then you need to make the decision that you are going to tackle the problem. Write down a plan of attack with tasks and steps that you can do (plus bring in others who can help) to diminish the problem and reduce the stress.
3. Have a piece of cake that will make you feel better
Cake in an office is dangerous, we all know that (Christmas is a test of will power). But comfort eating, like alcohol, is a crutch; a distraction from what is really going on. When we feel low we often go for the high-sugar, high-carb options. Before you know it you have an empty pack of Cadbury’s fingers and you just feel bad, you are trying to eat your feelings. Did you know that our bodies take longer than normal to clear saturated fats from the bloodstream? This means weight gain in the short term but type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the long-term (scary).
So what should you do instead? Eat fish and other items, which are high in Omega-3s or make time to do something enjoyable and new for you. Feel good from the inside out by getting your mind doing something different. Why not feed your creativite side instead with West Cumbria Carer’s Poetry Club. The group meets on the second Thursday of every month from 10am to 12noon at our office in Cockermouth. The sessions are lead by Susan Allen of the Wordsworth Trust. The group discuss a range of topics and by the end of a session the group have contributed to writing a piece of poetry. More details on the next session can be found here.
4. Try to be more positive
Easier said than done. Do they want you to smile all day and count yourself luckily to be alive? Well in the real world, things can be tough and that means you are ok to feel low. However the real issue is when feeling stressed and low completely affects your outlook on life. You only see the negatives and say ‘what’s the point in trying because it won’t work anyway’.
Instead of trying to be more positive in general, it’s about making adjustments that benefit you, and have a positive impact on your life. Such as time to do things you enjoy or will benefit your well-being. It will be hard at first because you will say ‘I’m stressed and busy I don’t have time for me’. However you have to commit to a chunk of time for you or the cycle of stress will become overpowering leading to burn out, physical health issues and then you become unable to care and/or work. Setting a date in the diary to hang out with friends, an exercise class or trying one of our relaxation sessions. Once you make time for you, things will shift.
5. Carry on doing exactly the same
This is different to ignoring the problem; it is sticking to the same routine and not adapting your behaviour or life accordingly. Change has to happen even though human beings are not fans of change. Doing the same is a way to cope with stress as humans like habits, so the more stress, the less change. But you need to do something different to release the pressure; a challenge, a new goal or something unique.
Try our Mindfulness course for example, to help change your mindset and learn techniques and exercises to help you manage anxiety and stresses with more ease. A new round of sessions start on Tuesday 30th January 2018 at Grace church, The George Street Centre, Whitehaven. The course is open to carers who have not previously attended a Mindfulness course with us before. There is an introduction to Mindfulness session the week before if you want to see if it is a good fit for you. For more information click the link.