Everyone experiences stress, it’s part of life. But if it’s starting to affect your health and wellbeing, you need to do something about it before it gets any worse.

Could this be YOU?

Here’s 7 common signs that stress could be making you ill:

*Feeling overwhelmed, worried and anxious
*Difficulty relaxing
*Unable to concentrate
*Mood swings and/ or feeling irritable
*Changes in sleeping habits
*Aches and pains, particularly muscle tension
*Feeling nauseous or dizzy

But what can I do about it?
There isn’t always an easy answer, the dementia journey can bring a great deal of uncertainty, pressure and turmoil for everyone. However, there are some simple steps you can take to protect your mental health and reduce your stress levels.

Stop pretending
Whether you’re living with dementia or caring for a loved one, many people feel the need to put on a brave face.  ‘I feel fine’ they say (see the acronym below, which might paint a more accurate picture of how you’re truly feeling). Perhaps you want to protect family and friends and stop them from worrying, or maybe you just don’t want others to know they’re struggling, but whatever the reason, trying to pretend you’re okay when you aren’t is only going to create more stress. Eventually, it could make you very ill.

What FINE sometimes means…

Freaked out

Insecure

Neurotic

Emotional

Replace ‘should’ with ‘could’
Many people on the dementia journey expect far too much of themselves. Take a long hard look at what you do each day (try writing a list). Then look at each task one by one and ask yourself; is this absolutely essential or do I still do it because I feel I should?  By replacing ‘should’ with ‘could’ you give yourself more choice and, ultimately, more freedom. So you could make a home-cooked meal tonight, or you could stick some ready meals in the oven and put your feet up for 20 minutes.

Get active
Simply leaving the house and going for a 20-minute walk can help to clear your mind and reduce your stress levels. Evidence shows that a bit of physical exercise can cause chemical changes in the brain that hep to boost mood, ease depression and anxietyGet fit for free: Go here for more inspiration!

Try relaxing together
If you and the person with dementia both need to relax, one of these simple ideas might help.

Animal magic
Walking a dog or stroking a cat on your lap can be a great way to de-stress, but you don’t have to be a pet owner to enjoy the benefits. For example, you could borrow a dog near you and take them for walks. This also increases your activity and gets you both outside. If that’s too much, you could consider a sensory pet to help calm, soothe and bring comfort. The Unforgettable range of companion puppies and cats is extremely popular. Go here to find out more.

Chill time
You could both find the Soothing Sounds Dial beneficial in reducing stress and helping you to nod off. Put it by your bed at night, or next to a favourite armchair for an afternoon nap. Then, simply turn the dial and play the sound you like most (there are 12 to choose from including nature sounds and gentle, ambient music) Go here to find out more.

Join our support group
The Unforgettable Dementia Support Group is a thriving, warm and welcoming community of like-minded, people. If you’re feeling stressed or need a place to let off steam and be heard by people who really understand…Join now here.