Heyyyyy! Ok, you know how I may have mentioned once or twice in the past that I am a complete and utter stess head? Oh, you missed it? K, well I am. Big time. I’m constantly stressed about things, the most ridiculous things, things that I don’t need to stress over (the boys will be upset because we didn’t book lunch at the school early enough so can’t go, even though there is only ever around 10 parents that go and the boys would probably not appreciate us both sat there troughing Easter lunch in front of their mates) and major things that do require a bit of stress (Toby’s testicle op).
Anyway, yeah, I stress over things. April is Stress Awareness month, a huge opportunity to raise awareness for stress and what it is to be stressed – we all have it from time to time, it’s one of the biggest causes for workplace absense and yet how often do you hear people saying things like “Urgh, so and so is signed off for “stress” – clearly just an excuse.” How many times to we, as a society, dismiss things like stress, anxiety and tensions that lead to bigger and more complicated mental health issues like depression? Far too often. So I’ve decided to shed some light on STRESS throughout April in honour of Stress Awareness Month.
Every day there will be 1-2 short Q&A style posts shared on this blog by different people from all walks of life. Some are parents, some a cat owners, some are plant owners and some like a take away once a week. Some are professionals, some are stay at home parents in a foreign country. Some have brown hair, some have no hair – you get the drift.
I’m not abandoning the blog by the way, I will still be writing too and you can catch my posts Monday-Friday first thing in the morning, but I want to give this month some special attention and show that stress is a big deal, it affects us in all walks of life.
I thought I would share my thoughts on stress first:
1.) Do you suﬀer with stress frequently or occasionally?
FREQUENTLY. I’d say daily but that would be all the lols because it’s hourly. I will find ANYTHING to stress about in varying degrees. True Story.
2.) What sort of things cause you stress?
LIFE. No joke. Everything can cause me stress depending on what I’m doing. I tend to have relentless, very minor stresses over things like the kids homework and if the school know I’m as incompetent as I am all the way to how I’m going to pay the bills that month because cash flow is a nasty bastard and conspires against me in every way.
3.) Does anything in particular make stress worse for you?
Being told to stop being dramatic or its not a big deal and clutter, sounds silly but CLUTTER MAKES ME STABBY. To me clutter signifies a lack of help really, carelessness for my wellbeing – if you know I’m more stress when stuff is cluttered then why make is cluttered? Simples. In reality I do this to myself too, I’m looking at my desk as I type and thinking that I really ought to have the self care chat with myself again.
4.) Does stress have an impact on your physical health?
Yes, and it depends on how bad it gets. It ranges from just not really being able to sleep very well to the point where I had to go into hospital at the end of last year because I over worked myself and got into a position where I was having chest pains and had a suspected pulmonary embolism. It was a bit of a wake up call when the doctors came back and determined that it was a bad chest infection that I had been ignoring for months and had amplified by stress.
5.) What do you do to alleviate stress?
I read and most lately I’ve started watching TV again. I’ve always watched maybe one or two shows but largely worked through them, now I switch off and go for a bath with a cuppa and watch an episode at a time in the tub. It helps clear my mind and then I can chill out a bit more. I also try to make sure I have more normal work hours which isn’t going so well…
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?
MASSIVELY. This is the kind of thing that I want to see more of – discussion. You know, we take the piss out of millennials (I’m actually a millennial and didn’t know… shh…) because they are “soft” and talk a lot about mental health, inclusion and all that jazz but I think it’s so important to raise awareness and one of the brilliant things about this generation. Millennials are doing a fair job on making life a bit fairer for all really. I’d love to get to the point where we can say so and so is signed off work for stress and there are no eye rolls but its treated the same as being signed off for tonsillitis. The only thing said should be “Oh no, I hope he/she is better soon.” For that we need more of a dialogue about what stress really is and how it impacts us. I’m not suggesting that we all need to be going off sick with stress – geez, I’d never work – but that if it gets to that point we should be assessing where things have gone wrong and not vilifying the person as lazy or wanting a lie in. Perhaps if there was more compassion it wouldn’t get to that point. Also, I’d like to see less stress for parents too, and I think we can do that by being more open and less judgemental about parenthood.
7.) Do you have any tips for anyone dealing with stress?
Acknowledge it. I buried my head when things got really intense at the end of the year, I really always do. Acknowledge it and offload it to someone, talk to someone who will listen and not judge. Ask yourself what you can do to alleviate some of the stress and how you can step back. Do something that requires NOTHING from you: read, start a hobby class that is drop in and out, go for a drink with a friend, have a bath with no tech in the room, watch RuPaul because it’s effortlessly daft and requires nothing from your noggin. Find something that helps you totally zone out and just chill. Create time to have a nap – I did it the other day and it made a world of difference (even if I spent the first 20mins of my nap berating myself for being a lazy git – which I’m not, I was up until 3am writing).