Coping with stress
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. It's when we think a task is too big for our resources. Sometimes we are so stressed we forget what not being stressed feels like.
Short-term stress is not a bad thing, but long-term it can be harmful. It's important to work out how stress affects you. The first step of trying to reduce stress is recognising when you're getting stressed.
Tips to reduce stress
- Plan your time; trying to cram in too much will end up making you feel stressed when you do not achieve everything.
- Reduce your to-do list - try delegating tasks or, if they are really not essential, cross them off your list altogether!
- Just say no - know your limits and stick to them.
- Avoid people who stress you out. If you know a particular person touches all your hot buttons, limit the amount of time you spend with them.
- Take control of your environment. If trips to the shops are really difficult, can you shop online instead?
- Be more assertive. If someone calls and you really do only have five minutes, tell them and be firm when the time is up.
- Be positive. If something goes wrong, try to find a more positive way to view it. Try to focus on the five things that worked today, not the one that didn't.
- Take notice of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on the experiences of the day will help you appreciate what matters to you.
- Learn how to let go of anger and resentment and forgive others.
Looking after yourself
- Keep active - exercise is proven to improve mental wellbeing and can be as simple as a walk around the block or dancing to a song on the radio.
- Eat healthily. Try to have your five a day and eat breakfast. Cutting down on caffeine can help, and eating with the family can reduce stress for some. See NHS Choices for more.
- Make sure you get enough sleep - see our tips for dealing with your and your child's sleep issues.
- Keep learning. Set yourself a challenge you will enjoy achieving - learning something new will make you more confident as well as being fun.
- Make time to regularly do something for yourself. Just ten minutes every day or an hour or two every week can really help.
Help from others
- Express your feelings - tell your family, partner or friends how you feel and don't keep it bottled up. Take time to build and develop your connections with the people around you.
- If you have a partner, make sure you make time for each other and for your relationship. Set aside five minutes for each of you to talk at the end of the day, or watch telly together for half an hour daily. See more relationship tips.
- Ask for professional support if you need to. Speak to your GP, health visitor, social worker, or other professionals you know for information about counselling or therapies.
- Think about joining a parent support group to meet other families with disabled children who live close to you.
- Find Contact support in your area to see if there's a workshop or family day you can join.
- Do something nice for a friend or a stranger, such as volunteering. Seeing your happiness linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding.
Visit Family Life Plus, our relationship support site developed with relationship charity OnePlusOne.
- Helping you and your child sleep.
- Managing challenging behaviour.
- Working with professionals.