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RUS­SELL HEM­MINGS

I’M STRUG­GLING WITH STRESS

Q I’m a mum of two kids and I also work part-time, and at the mo­ment I feel like things are get­ting on top of me. I think it’s stress; I strug­gle to keep any­thing in per­spec­tive. The small­est ir­ri­ta­tion or things not go­ing to plan throws me into a spin and I find it hard to con­trol how I re­act. Is there a way I can learn to be more laid-back?

AI think you’ve gone a long way in iden­ti­fy­ing what the prob­lem is your­self when you talk about stress. Jug­gling work and be­ing a mum not only takes an aw­ful lot of en­ergy, it re­quires huge amounts of or­gan­i­sa­tion, and this can leave you feel­ing you have very lit­tle time for your­self.

Throw tired­ness into the mix and you have the per­fect stress cock­tail, and when our stres­some­ter is al­ways bounc­ing around at the max point, emo­tional re­ac­tions can be­come more ex­treme. Part of this is about not be­ing able to see the big­ger pic­ture. When you lose sight of the rel­a­tive im­por­tance of events and your re­ac­tions re­flect this, it’s a sure sign of some­thing else go­ing on un­der the sur­face, and it is this that you need to ad­dress.

You men­tion you have a ten­dency to be­come very an­gry, and I feel this is why you have writ­ten to me as it has prob­a­bly made you feel con­cerned. If you are re­act­ing an­grily to ev­ery­day sit­u­a­tions, such as nor­mal child­hood mis­be­haviour, it’s worth con­sid­er­ing see­ing a coun­sel­lor to help you man­age your stress more ef­fec­tively.

It sounds like you lit­er­ally need to give your­self a break. If you can, get a rel­a­tive or friend to look af­ter the chil­dren, and take some much needed me-time. It could be a few hours, or even a few days, and this will give you the space to think about how you are re­ally feel­ing.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; we all need it some­times and it’s a sign of strength rather than of weak­ness if we can ad­mit to it. Look­ing at your daily life at a dis­tance and in a more re­laxed frame of mind will help you de­velop the ob­jec­tiv­ity you need to see what is caus­ing you to feel such a high de­gree of stress and how you can change things to bring your life and per­spec­tive back into bal­ance. So I would urge you to reach out for sup­port and share your feel­ings with those you trust.

When it comes to per­spec­tive, there are some strate­gies you can use to help you reg­u­late your emo­tions when stress­ful sit­u­a­tions arise. Un­der­stand­ing what trig­gers these re­sponses you re­fer to is a good start. When some­thing arises that sends you into a spin, if pos­si­ble get into the habit of tak­ing your­self away from the sit­u­a­tion for a minute or two to give your­self time to think about just how bad it is com­pared to all of the things that have hap­pened, are hap­pen­ing or could hap­pen in your life.

Be­ing able to rank events ob­jec­tively like this will help you to re-en­gage with what’s truly im­por­tant.

A neg­a­tive out­look on life tends to snow­ball and bleed into all ar­eas, so catch­ing your­self hav­ing neg­a­tive thoughts or us­ing neg­a­tive lan­guage over and over again can al­low you to re­frame things more pos­i­tively.

Take some time out, give your­self per­mis­sion to have fun, laugh and en­joy the im­por­tant things, like your fam­ily. Don’t aim for per­fec­tion; it’s not at­tain­able. Rather aim for bal­ance by sim­pli­fy­ing things as much as pos­si­ble and from this you will de­velop a broader out­look that will al­low you to see the wood and not just the trees.

Take some TIME OUT, give your­self per­mis­sion to have FUN, laugh and en­joy the im­por­tant things, like fam­ily. Don’t aim for PER­FEC­TION; it is not at­tain­able. Rather AIM for BAL­ANCE by sim­pli­fy­ing things

is a life coach, and clin­i­cal and cog­ni­tive be­havioural hyp­nother­a­pist

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