Looking After Your Own Mental Health

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Photo of man relaxing in a spa

Family Stress and Anxiety

The people I meet with anxiety are invariably stressed. I come across many people in my clinic who just have too much to do – often looking after their family. Whether it is earning money to keep a roof over their heads or organising the kids to make sure they have breakfast before going to school, it all adds stress. Too much stress can give rise to growing anxiety.

We cannot all live stress-free lives. Stress is a natural part of living. Stress is needed to achieve things – even if it’s only a small amount. But small amounts of stress add up. When you have responsibilities for children and other close relatives, you feel the stress more intently.

Everyone is different

Everyone is different, everyone handles stress in a different way, and everyone has a different capacity for stress before anxiety sets in. You have to judge for yourself how much stress you can cope with in your life.

How do you know if you are too stressed?

When you are too stressed, the primitive part of your brain starts to get a hold. You are more likely to have those moments of frustration; you might find yourself snapping at people (especially your family – the ones you love); you might start developing minutes or even hours of anxiety or helplessness. When you start to become overwhelmed and those negative emotions of anxiety, depression and anger start to come into play – that is the time to take charge.

The trap of ever-increasing stress

One problem with being part of a family is that you are constantly negotiating about who does what. Children are natural negotiators – sometimes it’s easier to tidy the kids’ rooms yourself than to get them to do it. And so it become very easy to take on just one more job. Your day might be full, but when the job of organising a weekend away comes along, you somehow fit it in … and when you do go away for the weekend, you somehow find all the jobs you would have done that weekend and fit them elsewhere. We can suffer from a drip-feed of increased jobs that stress us.

Your mental health comes first

When you are sitting in a plane, waiting for the flight, you will watch the safety demonstration. One thing they always tell you is … if the oxygen masks come down, put your own mask on before you help someone else. This always seems counter-intuitive. If you have your own child with you, your instinct is to help them first – but the instructions say you should put on your own mask first. Of course, we know the reason for this – you can’t help others if you are in trouble yourself.

You need to look after your mental health and, bizarre though it seems, it is sometimes important to look after yourself first before you look after the needs of your family.

Is stress a problem?

Increasing amounts of stress is only a problem if it’s a problem. If you can cope with it all – fine. Hundreds of people cope with a lot of stress and don’t need to do anything about it. Just be aware that the ever-increasing stress trap can creep up on you.

Everyone is different. The only person who can determine if you have too much stress is you.

What do I do if stress is too much?

You need to prioritise your mental health. Taking time for yourself to relax, go for a run, have a day in the spa, go a play football with your mates, or whatever it is you need to take a break – this is the oxygen mask in the plane. This is what you need to prioritise over the other demands on your life.

And you might have to say, “no” to people who ask you to do something. You might have to delegate your jobs to someone else for a while. You might have to just stop doing some of the things you are doing, and ask yourself, “Which is more important, doing this – or my own mental health.”

If you are having difficulty coping with stress and anxiety on your own, you may like to give hypnotherapy a go. From my clinic here in Fleet in Hampshire, I work with people who are only just coping with stress and anxiety. I use hypnotherapy to help them regain control of their lives.

Photo by Logan Stone on Unsplash

Tim Maude

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07730 315503

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