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National Stress Awareness Day

The first Wednesday of every November is Stress Awareness Day.

As parents, stress is a subject that resonates with most of us. It’s a common aspect of parenting for so many reasons, there is no escaping the pressures of being a mummy and daddy, but for many stress is something that we can struggle to deal with to the detriment of our mental and physical health. It’s so important to be aware of the impact of stress and develop ways of dealing with it!

What is Stress Awareness Day?

Stress Awareness Day, according to MIND, is a…

“…great opportunity to take a moment to think about our wellbeing and find advice or support on managing stress. We’ve got some suggestions for how you can join the conversation about stress.”

Dealing With Stress as a Parent

If you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed as a parent, firstly, you’re not alone by any means. Be assured that there are ways that you can approach your stress and take steps to keep your stress levels down.

Signs That You’re Becoming Too Stressed

Excess stress can lead to poor health, both mentally and physically! The list of signs is quite long and broad, just showing how much impact too much stress can have on someone…

  • Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Feeling ‘wound up’
  • Anxiety
  • Being unable to ‘switch off’
  • Lack of excitement and enjoyment
  • Depression and low mood
  • Loss of sense of humour
  • A feeling of dread
  • Lonliness
  • Struggling to concentrate or make decisions
  • Constant worrying
  • Biting nails and picking at skin/hair
  • Smoking or drinking more than usual
  • Over eating or undereating
  • Being tearful
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Teeth grinding
  • Indigestion
  • Change of bowel habits
  • Blurry eyesight
  • Panic attacks
  • Exhaustion
  • Chest pains

Common Causes

As parents, I’m sure we can all accurately pinpoint our own stress triggers! Common causes are;

  • Being under a lot of pressure
  • Big life changes
  • Worrying
  • Lack of control of a situation
  • Overwhelming responsibilities

Reading that list, I’m sure most of you are mentally ticking them off in your head – they’re all very real and relevant to parent life, aren’t they! Parenthood itself is a big pressure on us as mummies and daddies, it’s a huge life change, it comes with lots of worries and situations we cannot control as well as enormous responsibilities.

Dealing With Becoming Too Stressed

MIND has some excellent tips for dealing with stress, which we’re sure you’ll benefit from. They advise…

  • Identifying your triggers
  • Organising your time
  • Addressing the causes
  • Accepting the things you cannot change

However, as parents, it’s easier said than done if our stress trigger is something that triggers that ‘fight or flight response’ – for example, our babies crying and we don’t know why. It’s hardly something we can just accept, and it’s very normal for us to have a visceral response to our little ones being upset, triggering a stress response. This is where the importance of self care and ‘me time’ cones in.

To counter these stressful moments, taking a few moments for yourself to relax, pamper and destress is key.

Other tips we’ve been sent in by our online community are…

  • If you’re feeling extremely overwhelmed, put baby down and take a few minutes in the next room to just breathe. Then go back to baby and start afresh.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support; your partner, if they are in the picture, should be steadfastly supportive and not leave everything to you.
  • Remember that it gets better, as your child grows and gains some independence you’ll feel under a lot less pressure.
  • Excessive stress and anxiety after having a baby can sometimes indicate Post Natal Depression – speak to your midwife, Health Visitor or GP.
  • Read the MIND guide on developing resilience here.

Stress Treatments To Look Into

Stress isn’t a specific medical diagnosis, so there isn’t a specific medical treatment for but there are pathways you can take if you visit your GP…

  • ‘Talking treatment’s such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness
  • Medication
  • ‘Ecotherapy’
  • Other complementary therapies

Book in with your GP for more information, and read more on the MIND website here.

Advice For Family & Friends of a Stressed Parent

If someone in your life is struggling to deal with stress, there are ways in which you can be supportive and lighten their load…

  • Don’t dismiss/undermine their feelings – be sensitive and conscientious.
  • Don’t compare their situation to anyone else’s – ‘well I did so-and-so and was more stressed and I coped so you should be coping!’ is probably the worst thing to say.
  • If you’re noticing signs that they aren’t, help them to reflect and accept their stress. Gently let them know and offer support.
  • Listen. This is one of the most important things you can do; just be there, and listen.
  • If able to, offer to look after the children and give them a few hours of relaxation.
  • Don’t put extra pressure on them in terms of social plans or other commitments.

Resources For Anyone Struggling With Stress

For anyone feeling overwhelmed, there are some great resources on the MIND website aimed at people who need a little extra support.

MIND Helplines

Local MIND Groups

MIND Online Resources

Share with us in the comments; what are your experiences of stress?

Love from Katie & Team BBY. Xx

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