- Do something for fun. Meet a friend for coffee. Book a shoulder massage or aromatherapy session. See a film or watch a comedy programme. Laughing is a great stress buster.
- Allow yourself to put the stress aside for a while. If you have a problem or situation which is causing you stress, try putting it aside for a day, sleeping on it and sometimes the next day you can take stock of the issue with fresh thoughts.
- Learn how to say no. No one can do everything and sometimes we take on more and more responsibilities over time without thinking what the consequences are for you. Delegate if you can and if someone offers help take it. Even someone going to the shops for you if you can’t leave the person you are caring for could be a big help.
- If you need help ask for it. Family, friends and health professionals may not know or understand the pressures you are trying to cope with if you don’t tell them.
- Talk to someone.Just telling someone can be a huge relief that another person knows and is sharing your concerns. Even if they cannot offer immediate help, the act of confiding in them may help you to see things more clearly and they may give advice that you had never thought of. Some times it is much easier to talk to a stranger rather than someone close to you or vice versa. If you need independent advice or just a good listener call the CHSS Advice Line on 0808 801 8099 or your local carers centre or group.
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs as a prop to get through the day. Although alcohol may seem to relax you and reduce your problems in the short term it can easily lead to dependence and rarely solves any of the stressful problems you have. Alcohol and drugs cannot give you any practical help and may have a negative effect on your health and those around you.
- Accept what you can’t change. Stress can become an ever increasing cycle. If another person is the cause of the stress it may seem like your options are very limited to change anything. This can apply to you or the person who has had the stroke. They may be feeling very vulnerable and feel they have lost control of their life. You may feel you have been thrust into a situation no one could have expected very suddenly and feel you have to just “get on with it”. The one thing you can change is how you react to the stress rather than the cause. Ask how you could do things differently? Tell the person who is adding to your stress what they are doing that makes you feel this way. They may not be aware of the effect their behaviour is having on you. It may seem odd but stress can be a learning experience provided you stop and learn from your mistakes, adapt and react differently next time.
- Let go of anger and resentment. Negative thoughts and feelings can increase stress. Sometimes we have to forgive and forget even if we are forgiving someone else or ourselves. Find another outlet for built up anger. Physical activity can be very good for this.
3. Practical advice and tips for carers > Psychological issues
10) Psychological ways to help with stress