Are you feeling stressed out? — Scope | Disability forum
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Are you feeling stressed out?

Tori_Scope Posts: 9,644 Scope online community team
edited November 2020 in Mental health and wellbeing
This week is International Stress Awareness Week. Although feeling stressed sometimes is a normal part of life, it can be easy to let these feelings get on top of you. It's therefore really important that you understand what makes you stressed, how to spot the signs of stress, and what you can do if you're struggling to cope.

What is stress?

Although there's no single medical definition of stress, the Mental Health Foundation define stress as:
the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that are unmanageable. 

It's important to remember that some stress can be useful. I'm sure we've all been in situations where we've needed to be under a bit of pressure to get something done, or to have the energy to make it through a long day. That being said:

If our stress response is activated repeatedly, or it persists over time, the effects can result in wear and tear on the body and can cause us to feel permanently in a state of ‘fight or flight’ . Rather than helping us push through, this pressure can make us feel overwhelmed or unable to cope. 

Feeling this overwhelming stress for a long period of time is often called chronic or long-term stress, and it can impact on both physical and mental health.

What causes stress?

The Mental Health Foundation point out that stress can have many different causes
What contributes to stress can vary hugely from person to person and differs according to our social and economic circumstances, the environment we live in and our genetic makeup.
Mind have listed some of these circumstances as:
  • Being under lots of pressure
  • Facing big changes
  • Worrying about something
  • Not having much or any control over the outcome of a situation
  • Having responsibilities that you're finding overwhelming
  • Not having enough work, activities or change in your life
  • Times of uncertainty
I'm sure we're all experiencing some level of uncertainty at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic, so this makes checking-in with yourself and recognising the signs of stress as early as possible more important than ever.

Signs of stress

Stress can affect everyone differently, but Mind have outlined some key signs, such as feeling:
  • Irritable or aggressive
  • Anxious, nervous or afraid
  • Like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off
  • Unable to enjoy yourself
  • Depressed
  • A sense of dread
  • Worried about your health

woman in facemask with her head in her hands

Stress and disability

Being disabled can be a cause of extra stress in someone's life, and this can sometimes worsen both physical and mental health. Caring for disabled people can also be stressful at times, especially if you're managing this responsibility alone.

Here are two examples of how disability can impact upon stress. 

Stress at work

It's perfectly normal to feel stressed at work on occasion, but you shouldn't feel stressed every day. There are many factors that can lead to disabled people feeling stressed at work, including:
  • Lack of adjustments to allow you to do your job to the best of your ability
  • Discrimination and workplace bullying
  • Barriers to accessibility
Please remember that there is help out there if you're feeling stressed at work. Scope have a page on managing stress at work, which includes guidance on:
  • Getting emotional support
  • Speaking with your employer
  • Planning and pacing your work
  • Getting reasonable adjustments
  • Help with finding a job that matches your skills

Stress when caring for a disabled child

If you're a parent or carer to a disabled child, it's okay to speak up when you're feeling overwhelmed or are struggling to cope.

Scope have published some tips for managing stress when caring for a disabled child, including: 
  • Sharing how you feel with someone you trust
  • Taking naps when you can
  • Joining a support group
  • Taking time for yourself
It's important to remember that you're not alone, and the community is also always here if you ever need to vent or speak to others in a similar position.

Coping with stress

The NHS' Every Mind Matters page has some useful tips on dealing with stress, including:
  • Splitting up big tasks
  • Taking time to think of the positives
  • Challenging unhelpful thoughts
  • Getting active
  • Talking to someone
  • Planning ahead and becoming more organised

Over to you

What makes you stressed? Do you feel as though being disabled impacts your stress levels? Have you felt stressed when caring for a disabled person? What helps you to de-stress and unwind?

I find it really helpful to talk things through when I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed, but I know it's not always easy to do, so please feel free to comment below if you're going through something stressful at the moment and need some advice, or for someone to lend a listening ear :) 
Online Community Coordinator, she/her

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