Stress can be caused by a variety of different situations, from facing big changes in your life to feeling that situations are overwhelming or out of your control. While often being incredibly rewarding, extra pressures from caring for loved ones can mount up and take their toll.
We all experience stress in different ways, and sometimes we don’t acknowledge that we’re stressed until we’ve experienced several of the symptoms. Dr Jane Fossey, consultant clinical psychologist for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust explains some of the tell-tale signs of stress.
Changes in how you feel
Your emotional reaction to things might change. Some people find themselves becoming irritable, impatient or having a short fuse. Others experience feelings of depression, like they’ve become less interested in things, or they have lost their sense of humour.
Changes in how you think
You might notice differences in the way you approach and think about situations – you find yourself becoming more indecisive, or prone to procrastinating and putting things off. People may also notice that they’re distracted and lose their concentration easily.
Even if you’re feeling well in yourself, you might find that you’re restless and fidgety, or that you’ve got into the habit of biting your nails or picking at your skin. Commonly, people also notice that they’re eating too much or too little, or that they’ve started smoking or drinking more than they used to.
Finding it hard to get a good night’s sleep
Stress can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Feelings of anxiety or dread, or not being able to “switch off” when you go to bed can mean that you can struggle to drift off, or stay asleep throughout the night.
Feeling ill or under the weather
You might find that you’ve come down with lot of colds recently, or you just haven’t quite been feeling yourself; or you might have notice that you’ve had a lot of headaches or chest pains recently. Other physical signs include feeling short of breath, feeling sick, or having sore eyes.
Jane is the lead researcher for Caring For Me and You, a research trial that will test online cognitive behavioural therapy or tailored support specifically designed for carers of people with dementia.
Many carers struggle to take time out of their caring responsibilities to access help and support, and a tried and tested way for carers to log on to get support at home could transform the lives of thousands of people.
During Dementia Awareness Week (15-21 May), the research team and Alzheimer’s Society are calling for carers of people with dementia who have felt the emotional pressures of caring, and have access to a desktop or laptop PC, to help test the effectiveness of this new package. Sign up at www.caringformeandyou.org.uk
Dementia Awareness Week is Alzheimer’s Society’s annual flagship awareness-raising campaign in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This year, Dementia Awareness Week is taking place from 15-21 May and is asking people to confront dementia head on. Find out more alzheimers.org.uk/DAW or call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122.