Dear Courage Queen
I have never bought into the idea of ‘being stressed’ before, however recently I have been not sleeping very well, felt irritable and tense and can’t seem to relax. I just seem to work more and more which makes me more stressed. My friend suggested I might be stressed which I laughed at, as I have always been strong and able to manage everything. However this morning I awoke at 5am and couldn’t get back to sleep as constant thoughts were going around in my head – do you think I am suffering with stress and if I am, what can I do about it?
Dear Courageous One
Stress can creep up on us all and if not managed early enough can lead to severe symptoms such as anxiety, depression and even panic attacks. Stress is simply a call from our body to ‘stop’ – to stop and assess how much we are trying to deal with – are we trying to be Superhuman and overload our self with responsibilities?
Common physical symptoms of stress are low energy, headaches and other bodily aches including upset stomach, chest pains and insomnia. Emotional symptoms include constant worrying, over analysing and an inability to rest and relax. It is easy to turn to alcohol, tobacco or drugs to ease the stress, however this can make our symptoms worse as we are not looking at the root cause of what is causing our stress.
We can become stressed by how others are behaving in our life – they may be making too many demands on us. We can also become stressed by a change in our life, which has been forced upon us such as redundancy or divorce. Finally we can become stressed by life changes we have chosen, such as a new job or becoming a parent.
To help reduce your mental stress:
- List everything you are worrying about or feel overwhelmed with.
- From this list, identify who or what you have no control over and you personally cannot affect or change the situation – then repeat ‘I let these worries go’. Let other adults take responsibility of their own life.
- Next, identify what you do have control over and make one action point next to each worry as to how you can eliminate the worry – maybe you need to seek outside support for example?
- Get a fresh perspective on the situation –even asking a friend for their advice can be helpful.
- Have some ‘You’ time – even taking a walk outside will make a difference. It’s ok to ask for help and support to reduce the burden of your responsibilities. It is important not to feel guilty about resting and relaxing.
- Research on the internet ways to reduce your stress for more in-depth ideas.
As parents it is also important we teach our children to understand how to relax and cope positively with life. I would hate for my son to suffer with stress when he is older therefore I have to role model positive coping mechanisms.
Remember your children look to you to see how they should react to challenging situations and people in life. If we are getting angry, shouting and using external coping mechanisms to cope with stress, then children will learn this is the correct way to cope with stress.
Here are some easy ways to help children cope with their emotional stress:
- If your child has fallen out with a friend, ask them to write a letter to their friend, telling them how they really feel. Don’t post this letter but the act of writing it will help them understand why they feel the way they do. Encourage them to think of a solution or compromise to the situation.
- Whilst your child is in the bath, ask them to imagine all their worries being in the bath. Imagine their thoughts and feelings being put into the bath water. As they let the water out ask them to imagine all their negative thoughts and feelings are draining away.
- Ask your children to write all the things they worry about in a week. Put these in a worry box. At the end of the week ask them which came true and which didn’t. They will see that the majority of their worries didn’t come true and you can remind them of this the following week.
Children can keep many negative thoughts and worries inside of them and often feel fearful of expressing them. It is important to find ways to encourage children to talk about them, otherwise they learn to bottle their thoughts and feelings up which may lead them to suffer with anxiety when they are older.
If you have any concerns about the mental health of your children, please contact me to discuss individual emotional literacy sessions for them.
Learning to manage our life stressors is a skill in itself. Daily I work with people giving them practical ways to reduce the stressors in their life. A fresh unbiased perspective is always useful and I give practical ways to reduce your stress.
If you still feel you would like a fresh unbiased perspective on the situation, then email me – [email protected].
Check out the Courage Queen website for more info and join my free closed group on Facebook – Courage Queen Club.
If you have a question you’d like Rachael to answer next moth please email it to her here [email protected].