Combat stress and sleepless nights with the help of the Carers Support Centre
The issues of sleep problems and the impact of stress are often raised by carers, so the Carers Support Centre, based at 24 George Street, Croydon, regularly offer one day workshops, led by an experienced facilitator to explore these areas in greater depth. The Centre will be holding two workshops relating to health and wellbeing in the coming months: The Impact of Caring on Relationships will be held on Tuesday 22 March, 10am -3pm and Managing Stress takes place Tuesday 10 May, 10am - 3pm. For those unable to get to these sessions, here are some helpful suggestions from one of our trainers:
Are you getting enough sleep?
Do you find it hard to drop off to sleep? Do you find yourself lying awake in the early hours worrying about the person you care for or perhaps other things going on in your life? Perhaps your sleep is interrupted to provide care for the person you look after. Whatever the reason, you are not alone.
Many carers tell us that getting a good night’s sleep is often very difficult and something that they worry about. There are lots of techniques that you can learn to improve your sleep. One tip that can really help is thinking about your diet. There are things you can eat which will help your body relax more easily into sleep. Here are five things you can try:
• Try herbal teas – substitute caffeine for camomile and valerian which have a calming effect and may help you sleep
• Carbohydrates can help - try eating a bowl of cereal, an oatcake or banana an hour before going to bed. This helps release insulin supporting our bodies to use tryptophan (an amino acid) to produce the sleep inducing melatonin
• Tryptophan can be found in milk, oats, bananas, poultry, eggs, peanuts and tuna - eating these foods as part of our diet, can help us to sleep better
• Drink a glass of warm milk - it isn’t just an old wives tale! Dairy products also contain tryptophan which helps produce both serotonin and melatonin, brain chemicals which help us sleep. Calcium also helps our brains to use these chemicals better, so dairy products which also contain calcium are a double win!
• Eating late at night - means our bodies are working hard to digest as well as get us to sleep, so try eating your evening meal earlier
Getting on top of stress
Stress is something we all experience at one time or another. Carers who are juggling many different challenges can often experience increased stress levels over long periods. Feeling stressed is often when we have too much on our minds, too much to do and feeling out of control, especially when other people are demanding a lot of us. A little bit of stress can be good for us; it can help us in difficult meetings, during driving tests or in exams. But long term stress can have an impact on our physical and mental health. Some of the key things that help manage stress are:
• Relaxation time - techniques like yoga and meditation help the body to relax and move away from the stress response. But even simple things like doing something you enjoy such as gardening, reading a book or taking a bath can reduce tension and help the mind refocus
• Exercising - getting some physical activity into your day helps to reduce stress levels and helps release frustration and stress. Walking, swimming and even housework are all good ways of getting your body moving
• Eating healthily - eating a poor diet places additional stress on your body and makes it more likely that we will reach for a sugary snack if new stresses arise. Try to eat a protein rich breakfast which will help balance your blood sugar throughout the day. Fresh fruit and vegetables will all help our bodies to work better
• Sleep - if we don’t sleep well we cope less well with stress that crops up during the day. Getting a good night’s sleep will help replenish our bodies