Restless? Having difficulty concentrating? Feeling a little on edge? You’re probably suffering from stress. It’s no surprise in our roles, considering some of the things we cope with while improving the lives of people in our care.
And we deal with it in different ways. We can even take a leaf out of the celebrity “dealing with stress” book. Take Madonna, for instance. The singer and actress has said: “Actually, I scream a lot … I guess I sometimes handle things well, sometimes I don’t."
That’s probably ok if it offers a release. Although the screaming out loud is perhaps best kept for behind closed doors - and windows - in our own homes.
If you are stressed from time to time, you are not alone. A UK-wide survey found that 85 per cent of adults are regularly experiencing stress, with women being substantially more stressed than men.
The most common causes were money, work, and health concerns.
There’s a certain irony in that we will recognise the signs of stress within people in our care. But we fail to spot the symptoms early enough within ourselves.
Stress - or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) - can affect you both physically and mentally. According to the NHS, the symptoms include:
A fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
Difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia).
Muscle aches and tension
Pins and needles
Shortness of breath
Trembling or shaking.
And it make a significant impact on your life from difficulty in carrying out your job to marital problems and inability to lead a normal life.
The symptoms can present themselves in other ways, too, with no-one being immune. Celebrities who have spoken openly about stress include:
Jesy Nelson, of Little Mix.
“I had alopecia when I was 13, brought on by stress from bullying. That’s why I love my big hair now.”
Kim Kardashian West, who has been diagnosed with stress-related psoriasis.
"People don't understand the pressure on me to look perfect."
Adele, who suffers from stage fright and once tried to escape a venue through a fire exit.
“I never feel like I'm going to deliver, ever.”
Singer and actor Will Young.
“It’s very isolating. There’s a part of my brain that is telling me that you’re about to die, you either shut down, freeze or you run. The only thing I can do is go to bed.”
Actress Kim Basinger.
“Fear has been something I've lived with my entire life.”
Tackling and managing stress
Stress is caused by a natural reaction that is designed to help you take on threats or difficulties. Normally, the effects will fade. The problem is when the body stays in a state of high alert and you start to develop the more severe symptoms described above.
That is when it needs to be tackled and managed. Some things you can do are:
Talk to people
It’s said that a problem shared is a problem halved. And it’s true that talking things over with friends or family is often a great therapy.
Pressure can be relieved by better time management. Try creating a schedule of your week ahead and consider using checklists for your tasks.
You don’t need a full workout at the gym. Even regular brisk walks will quickly improve your feeling of wellbeing.
Try not to over indulge in the wrong kind of foods, cut back on caffeine and avoid smoking and too much alcohol.
Have a break
A change of scene like a holiday, or even a weekend away, will be extremely beneficial to your health and happiness.
Our recently-published e-book “A Guide to Wellbeing for Carers”, will also provide you with useful information and advice.
Celebrity stress-busting advice
In addition, you can consider some stress-busting advice from celebrities. For example:
"Watch movies and hang out with friends."
“If I’m ever feeling tense or stressed or like I’m about to have a meltdown, I’ll put on my iPod and head to the gym or out on a bike ride.”
"I plan everything in advance.”
“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.”
“My way to de-stress is either listening to music or talking to my sister.”
“I started to say no. I'm not doing that. And slowly but surely, I remembered who I am."
And don’t forget that Care Outlook offers you:
• An experienced point of contact to help when required.
• Support networks and forums.
• Members of an approachable HR team
• Counselling advice; for matters such as bereavement.
You can also do more of what you do best. Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster, told the NHS: “Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective.
“The more you give, the more resilient and happy you feel."
And, if there are times when that doesn’t work, there’s always the Madonna solution!
A Guide to Wellbeing for Carers – Taking care of “YOU”