Friday, 22 June 2012

Dealing with Stress, an AXA PPP healthcare Webchat*

If there's one word that all busy parent's use to describe life with children, its the S word. Stress.

Whether it's worries over education, tantrums, or just making ends meet when you become a parent, most of us, myself included, will suffer varying degrees of stress at one time or another.

Whilst its something that maybe you've chatted about with other Mums and Dads, its probably something spoken about in a joking way, and it's not something that many child rearing handbooks really cover. But with figures estimating that half a million people in the UK now put health issues down to work related stress, why should we be silent on something that has the potential to cause secondary, and more problematic, health issues?

Well known company AXA PPP healthcare has decided it is time to talk about it, and so on the 28th June, between 1pm and 3.30pm, they will be hosting a webchat in their websites "be healthy" section, along with Mark Winwood, their Clinical Director of Psychological Health.

Mark will be answering questions on whatever you'd like to know about stress, such as it's long term untreated effects on mental and physical health, the overall problems it causes our bodies, and giving tips on how to deal with it effectively.

As usual, you can join in either by taking part in the live webchat, or by leaving a query for Mark to answer on AXA PPP healthcare's Facebook and Twitter pages, and the team will get back to you with a reply at a later date.

Mark is well placed to answer queries on your own experience of stress- he holds associate fellowship and chartership with the British Psychological Society and is also accredited by the Health Professional Council and a chartered scientist. After joining AXA PPP healthcare in 2008, he has been developing clinical and operational frameworks to allow the joint delivery of evidence based psychological care across its wellbeing and medical services. Prior to 2008, Mark worked as a senior psychologist in the NHS and has many years of clinical experience and research expertise.

I know how stress can go untreated only too well, and the long term damage it can do to not just the person suffering it, but those around them too.

I'm a busy Mum of two, and, like most of us, I'm not great at keeping my own health in check. I wont be the only one to admit that being a Mum usually means that you take on a lot, and generally your own needs get sidelined. Except, in 2009, when Littlest was out of hospital and needed a lot of care due to his prematurity,I started to get stressed more than I'd ever been before. Added to this, I had to carry on the day to day of looking after a toddler Mini who was 18 months old, thus a walking, talking pest! I also had a house to keep clean, cooking to do, shopping to sort out (with no car), and bills to pay. It all became too much, and, despite having opportunity to admit that I was taking on too much and becoming dangerously stressed, I carried on.

Not only did my stress make me open to all sorts of bugs- I seemed to permanently pick up colds and viruses- but in the end I was diagnosed with depression. I had reached the point of worrying about so many things, that I couldn't sleep without going through a check list of what I had done that day, and anything I'd forgotten I felt I'd failed and, of course, got even more stressed!

I'd like to ask Mark what he would have suggested to me at the time before I reached such a low ebb, what action could I have taken to avoid letting stress get the better of my own health?

It doesn't have to be this way, of course, and no matter what your circumstances you can, and must, talk to someone. Most things that cause us stress can be dealt with, whether that's dealing with a niggling issue at work by talking it through with your boss, or whether that's getting a break from the children for a well deserved night off (even just to watch TV), stress can and should be dealt with swiftly.

If you have a query for Mark, then its simple, take part in the AXA PPP healthcare webchat on the 28th June between 1pm-3.30pm at, or, if you can't join in live, leave a question at Facebook or Twitter. 

It couldn't be simpler, but it could just show you just how bad that word we all joke about, stress, can be.

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