It’s Stress Awareness month! If you haven’t seen my post here about Stress Awareness month and the stress awareness takeover, then go and check it out so that you can see what is going on!
Hi, I’m Nathalie! I’m a self-confessed coffee addict (no really, it keeps me sane, awake and able to function!) I’ve got a husband who works in F1 so we don’t see him much for 6 months of the year. I’ve also got 2 kids, a 10 year old girl (hello awkward hormones) and a 6 year old boy who likes to keep me on my toes as he has 28 severe allergies and doesn’t sleep much (see the connection to being a coffee addict…!)
I set up www.intolerantgourmand.com 3 years ago on the back of the diagnosis of my sons allergies, and spend my life creating and developing free from recipes, photographing food, writing for various publications and lecturing for clients.
Life is crazy busy, stressful at times (a fair bit actually!) but also great fun!
1.) Do you suﬀer with stress frequently or occasionally?
Whilst I don’t always admit it, I am living in a permanent state of stress because of Callum. He is a ticking time bomb, as we never know when the next severe allergic reaction will come from, nor know how severe it will be. His allergies are life threatening, and we’ve almost lost him 3 times due to severe reactions, so every day you have to push the fear of not looking after him aside and just get on with the day. He’s also got ongoing additional health issues which are causing some concerns too. Who said being a parent was easy eh!
2.) What sort of things cause you stress?
So following on from what I mentioned above, it’s primarily Callum causing me stress because of his health situation. We’ve got some difficult decisions to make in the coming week, and whilst I’d love to just bury my head in the sand and ignore them, I’m being forced to face reality. Trying to keep the whole family unit going, and the house running smoothly can be pretty stressful too, on top of running my own business, and sometimes you have to realise that you can’t keep spinning all the plates and something has to give!
3.) Does anything in particular make stress worse for you?
Again, I’d say Callum and keeping him well. I’m usually really good at not letting any of it get to me, and my motto is always ‘allergies are life changing but they shouldn’t be life defining’. I live by this, and have taught the kids this too. But sometimes it can be hard to push through, especially when you see other kids able to do anything they want while you’re having to weigh up whether it’s safe to do, and making sure you have back up plans if things don’t work out so Callum doesn’t miss out.
Allergies aren’t always understood either, we have some truly incredible friends who are just simply amazing with Callum and go above and beyond to include him as much as possible. But there are always people (not pointing any fingers) who say things like ‘oh a little bit won’t hurt will it? To which I always reply with ‘so a little arsenic in your coffee won’t hurt will it?
4.) Does stress have an impact on your physical health?
Definitely! I suffer with IBS (many links on my site for this, my symptoms, triggers and how I cope with it) and additional or ongoing stress can really unbalance my IBS. I also suffer with stress headaches, and insomnia when big decisions are looming and struggle to stop my brain from overthinking.
5.) What do you do to alleviate stress?
A long walk around our village always helps to clear my mind and get things into perspective. I often walk with my lovely neighbour and her gorgeous dog who always goes mental when he sees me which is adorable. I’d love to get a dog for us, but the husband has flatly refused for the past 4 years – any tips on how to get him to change his mind gratefully received ?
Yoga is also wonderful for getting some time out to relax and just close yourself away from everything!
Regular nights out with the girls is also a must. We all have stresses, and sharing it all, then having a great night with lots of laughs is always good medicine!
6.) Do you think more needs to be done to raise awareness of what causes stress and the impact it has on us and those around us? If yes, what would you do or like to see done?
Absolutely yes! It’s still seen as a taboo subject and more often than not people are scared to admit they’re stressed or that they’re suffering with stress or things are stressful. Reality is that we will all suffer with stress at some point, and knowing that it’s ok to talk about it is crucial. Otherwise it becomes the elephant in the room, and it’s even harder to talk about and starts impacting the whole family, our work lives and more.
I think raising awareness of stress and the impact it has is a great start. The more people share their stresses and show people it’s ok to talk about it, the easier it will be for others to open up! We all have different levels of stress, and different coping methods, and putting them all together shows the many different ways we can all help ourselves!
Thank you Harriet for getting us all to take part in this initiative, I think it’s wonderful!
7.) Do you have any tips for anyone dealing with stress?
Don’t be scared to open up and talk to someone. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. A problem shared is a problem halved and the person you speak to might be able to offer a different perspective that helps. But equally, just sharing what you’re dealing with can lighten the load and reduce the burden that you’re carrying around.
Thanks Nathalie! If you want to see more about stress awareness then please search ‘stress awareness’ to read all the posts throughout April.