The first step in dealing with stress & depression is to recognise that it is happening. You may have so little time to yourself that you don’t realise at first. When you do start noticing symptoms, do not struggle on, hoping it will go away. The sooner you deal with the problem, the better, and just talking about how you feel can help you find a way to deal with it.
Talking to other people who are in a similar situation can be a great help when you are feeling stressed. Not everyone finds this easy but it may be a surprise to find that others feel the same way as you. You could join a local carers’ group to share your experiences.
Why not try joining the Carers Matter Norfolk online community called “The Pod”. Here you can meet other carers online to share experiences and find support.
If you’re able, talk to family and friends. Just talking about how you feel can make you feel better. Your friends and family may not realise things are becoming overwhelming and when you share your feelings and problems, they may realise you need more help from them.
Take a Break
Talk to family and friends to see if they can take over caring for at least a couple of hours every week. Just having that break from caring will allow you some breathing space and hopefully time to treat yourself to something you enjoy.
If you are feeling tearful, angry or have other symptoms of stress, there are a number of steps you can take to help bring down your stress levels. These include:
- Go out of the room for at least five minutes. Take a deep breath and hold it for a count of three, then breathe out. Repeat again, until you feel more relaxed, but not so often that you feel dizzy.
- Relax your muscles. Tense muscles are a physical sign that you are stressed.
- Don’t drink or smoke too much. Alcohol and cigarettes have harmful effects on your body, and make you more at risk of the physical effects of stress.
- Caffeine can have similar effects on your body as stress, so watch your coffee intake.
- Get active. Physical exercise is a simple way to relieve tension. Even a walk to the shops can help reduce your stress levels.
- Try to pace yourself and tackle one thing at a time. Be realistic about what you expect of yourself. Learn to say “no” to other people on occasion.
Talk to your GP, who will have seen a lot of patients with depression and stress-related problems. Your GP may recommend counselling or another talking treatment. A counsellor will listen to you, and help you to find ways of dealing with your stress.
There are also medicines you might be able to take to relieve some of the symptoms of stress. If stress is making you feel depressed, your GP may prescribe antidepressants to help make life feel better. Different antidepressants suit different people, so if you aren’t happy with the one you are prescribed, go back to your doctor.