We all need time out to destress but not everyone can take advantage of a spa day or a night out at the movies. And this is even more challenging for care givers supporting loved ones with mental illness.
Everyday life and circumstances sometimes cause us to want to just stay under the covers and, well, sleep, or not even that and it can be overwhelming. Exhaustion. Busyness. Too busy to listen to our bodies that at times scream “STOP!”.
Our loved ones need us but what do we do when we reach breaking point and start to unravel?
What if you could have a day where you can do whatever you want?
What would a day like this look like for you? A day without interruptions, obligations or expectation. Are you able to make it a reality or is life so hectic that you aren’t able to take a breather?
As a care giver your daily life is most likely filled with the added stress of caring for a loved one and it’s very easy for you to experience overwhelm and even burnout. The stressors of caring for a loved one may cause the body to become overloaded to the point of emotional, physical and mental breakdown causing the body’s adrenal system to completely shut down. It can make you sick.
However, looking at the situation and alleviate the stress of daily life will go a long way in avoiding burnout.
Learning to recognise the symptoms of stress.
The symptoms of stress are varied and no part of the body is immune, however, because we all handle stress differently, the symptoms will vary but may include:
- Having difficulty relaxing and quietening your mind
- Low self-esteem
- Avoiding others
- Low energy
- Generalized and intense worry
- Changes in appetite
- Eye problems (i.e. twitching eyes, blurry vision, trouble focusing)
Now, if any of these symptoms persist I recommend a visit to your local doctor as there may be other causes.
Simple activities to help you destress
Depending on what you like to do there are ways to cope with the stress in our lives which go a long way to helping you live a less stressed life. Here are some ideas but the possibilities are endless.
- Go for a walk
- Listen to music, in particular classical, either upbeat or quiet, but music that makes your heart happy
- Take a relaxing bath
- Read a fiction book and take a walk into another world for a while
- Book a massage and organize for a family member or friend to hang out with your loved one for a couple of hours
- Exercise of any kind
- Practice deep breathing
- Do some colouring in. Yes, children do this but it helps take your mind off the current situation.
- Stay in the moment. This may be difficult at first because our minds try to think of the next thing to do but try and calm your mind
- Find out what you like doing creatively and start it
- Laugh out loud
- Have some fun – see a movie, play a board game with a friend, visit a favourite coffee shop, etc.
As a carer, stress is part of your daily life. What matters is how you handle it. If you are doing everything to alleviate the symptoms of stress and you still feel you’re becoming too overwhelmed, I suggest you find a trusted friend who knows your situation and can listen as you process your feelings.
In the midst of your unique situation, remember, you are ok, take a deep breath & just breathe.
Over to You
What kinds of activities do you do to help destress your life? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Kay is trained through the Australian Institute of Family counselling where she received her Advanced Diploma.
She has had over 10 year’s experience in the counselling field and is a member of the Christian Counsellors Association of Australia where professional integrity is paramount and is currently working as a church chaplain at Hunter Christian Church, Newcastle.
Kay’s confidential and empathetic counselling service is for women focussing on grief and loss, stress management and depression in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie region of NSW, Australia.