Blog: Coping with Stress

Word [STRESS] repeated

13 March 2024

When you are looking after a family member or friend you can easily become overwhelmed and exhausted by the sheer volume of tasks and responsibilities on your shoulders. You may have little or no support and feel trapped within your caring role. I know this because as a carer myself I have found myself in this place many times over the years. I still go through cycles of managing well then quickly becoming overwhelmed as something seemingly insignificant on its own changes or adds to the never ending to-do-list and the pressures suddenly get too much. 

It can at times feel like no amount of talking to professionals, peer support or short term respite can help as the challenges are not taken away. However it is important that we don't try to deal with everything on our own! If you don't have support networks at hand through family and friends then professionals can step in to support you.

Recently I started to feel completely burnt out (not an isolated incident), my caring responsibilities increased, I was feeling undervalued in a volunteering role, my youngest son was unwell, my mum had just had an operation and everything felt too much. I was most definitely experiencing stress. I tried for a period to just get on with it and not impose my negativity on others, adding more pressure on myself to be the glue to the circles of family and friendship around me. This isn't sustainable! I reached out to colleagues for support and although I know from trying counselling in the past that nobody can 'fix' my situation, sharing my experiences and being listened to and validated in all of my emotions really helped me. 

Now my situation hasn't miraculously changed but what has changed is how I think about it; the level of pressure I put on myself to keep everyone around me happy and well, and the lack of priority I give to my own mental wellbeing. Talking to somebody about your challenges wont make them go away but it can help you to reframe how you see your circumstances and regain some control over your situation and your own wellbeing. 

So what are some practical tips I can share that have worked for me?

Person walking towards sun in wooded area
  • Find a way that suits you to be more active. I have committed to walking 10,000 steps a day, this encourages me to get outdoors more (when feasible) and focus on my physical wellbeing.
  • Put boundaries in place and take control. This can be easier said than done but I recognised that I needed to say no more to those around me in order to protect myself. 
  • Connect with others. I am lucky that I have a wonderfully supportive family unit, friendship circle and colleagues who have been there to support me through challenging times. Finding 'your people' who you trust can really help whether its to talk about the pressures on you or as escapism from your responsibilities, it all helps. 
  • Prioritise sleep and journaling. I often do not sleep well as everything I have dealt with during the day and everything I am pre-empting for the day ahead comes to the forefront of my mind as soon as my head hits the pillow. I have started a bullet point journal, I write down three things I have achieved in the day and three priorities for the day ahead which helps to put me in a happier frame of mind before I go to sleep. Find something that works for you and prioritise your sleep.

If you would like to talk to somebody about feeling low or stressed connect to any of the organisations below:

If you are experiencing emotional distress contact The Samaritans- 116 123 

GP Surgery- If you are concerned about your mental wellbeing speak with your GP for support. 

Carers Together-  01642 488977

Teesside Mind- 01642 257020

The Junction Foundation-  01642 756000

PAM Assist (Middlesbrough only)- 08081 968 890

Look after you just as well as you take for those around you. 

Kelly x