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Life as a carer is stressful – and if the last two years have left you feeling more stressed than ever, you are not alone.

Our research on the effects of COVID-19 on carers showed that more than half (54%) of respondents were more stressed than before the pandemic. While some stress is normal and part and parcel of everyday life, too much can lead to a negative impact on your health and mood. You may find yourself feeling depressed.

On this page, we'll take a look at stress, how it can impact you, and ways to reduce your stress as well as how to manage depression.


Dealing with Stress

The first step in dealing with stress is to recognise that it is happening. You may have so little time to yourself that you don’t realise it at first. When you do start noticing the symptoms of stress (see below), do not struggle on, hoping it will go away. The sooner you deal with the problem, the better, and just talking about how you feel can help you find a way to deal with it.

The symptoms of stress can be both mental and physical, and can vary from person to person:

  • Mental symptoms can include anxiety, anger, depression, lack of appetite, sleeplessness, crying often, tiredness and difficulty concentrating.
  • Physical symptoms can include cramps, muscle spasms, chest pains, dizziness, restlessness, nervous twitches and breathlessness.

Tips for coping with stress

To manage stress, you may want to try different techniques. These can include relaxation, mindfulness, gentle exercise and watching your intake of things like sugar and caffeine. It’s important to make time in your day to actively relax even if you are busy and overwhelmed. In fact, it’s at these times that relaxing is even more important, to help you function as well as you can.

Reaching out to others who understand can really help. Our Me Time sessions include sessions on managing stress. We also run mindfulness sessions to help you learn techniques for connecting with yourself in a calmer way.

This video features Caroline Davies, life skills coach and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. Caroline has been a carer herself and has worked with carers on managing stress via our online Me Time sessions.

Dealing with Depression: Help and support

If life feels hard at the moment, try to take things one step at a time and know you're not alone – there is much support and help available. We hope you find the information below helpful as a starting point.

Depression is when we feel low or sad and can’t find any pleasure in life. Many of us feel like this sometimes, but depression is when these feelings last longer and are more extreme. It is an illness, just as flu and chickenpox are so don't hesitate to speak to your doctor if you feel you are experiencing it or may be at risk. 

One in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year, according to the mental health charity, Mind. Some people experience a temporary low (perhaps linked to bereavement, the illness of a family member, redundancy or divorce). However, sometimes this can turn into depression if this sinking feeling lasts and doesn't go away. 

Knowing what the symptoms are, who you should talk to and what treatments are available is important.

You might feel: 

  • hopeless, irritable, anxious, worried or tearful 

  • unable to cope with everyday things that you would not have thought twice about in the past 

  • like you have no appetite
  • like you can’t sleep or concentrate
  • so low you have suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harming. 

Depression can build up gradually, so you may not realise how much it is affecting you.  

If you have recognised any of these symptoms in yourself, you may be affected by depression. The NHS has a helpful self-assessment tool you could try.  

Opening up 

There are a number of different types of depression so it's important not to generalise or underestimate what you are going through. If you are experiencing the persistence of any of the symptoms mentioned above, it's a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor and talk it through.

You may find it helpful to speak to a close friend or relative first. The important thing is not to bottle up your feelings; opening up can be the first step to recovery. If there is no one you feel you can turn to, the  Samaritans  run a 24-hour helpline where you can talk to someone confidentially. 

Support groups 

It can feel very difficult to reach out to others when you feel this way, but taking that step to join a community such as a walking group or online social support group may help to switch your mind to a more positive area of focus. We host Me Time sessions which are held on Zoom and cover a range of topics from activities like mindfulness, managing difficult emotions, reiki and information sessions to arts, crafts and wellbeing. You can also search for local groups using our  local directory  or contact your council or trust for details of what's available in your area. 

Lifestyle changes 

What might seem like very small changes to make your lifestyle healthier can make a very positive difference in how you feel. Many people take up dancing, running or walking for the physical benefits and are amazed at how it can also transform their mental health. 

Eating regular meals with a good variety from the main food groups may seem obvious, but it can be easy to neglect our needs in this area and slip into bad habits, such as comfort eating which can make us feel worse.

Drinking the right fluids is also important for maintaining a good mood. Too much caffeine or alcohol can also really cause your mood to plummet so reducing your intake or cutting them out altogether could also help. 

Time is often very limited when you're caring. If this is the case for you, try to take small chunks of time to do therapeutic exercises for you such as 10 minutes of yoga or taking five conscious minutes to observe nature. Some people find practising mindfulness a very helpful tool. 

Wellbeing hubs

See our wellbeing hub for more ideas and the mental health charity Mind has lots of helpful suggestions on their  website

In addition, the Hub of Hope is the UK’s leading mental health support database. It is provided by the national mental health charity, Chasing the Stigma, and brings local, national, peer, community, charity, private and NHS mental health support and services together in one place for the first time. 

Getting professional support 

The effects of depression can be debilitating and it's important to seek professional support if this is the situation for you. Your doctor will look at the best way to treat it, just as they would any physical ailment. For an idea of what types of therapies are available, you may find it useful to look at this section of the  NHS website.

If you are feeling particularly anxious, do not hesitate to reach out to the Samaritans anytime, who offer trained advisers support through their helpline around the clock.

If you're going through the menopause 

There’s been a lot of talk about the menopause recently on TV and radio. And yet, unfortunately, it is a subject that is not often spoken openly about. When you are already hard-pushed with caring tasks, it can feel like an additional load to deal with, both emotionally and physically. 

Usually, between the ages of 45 and 55 years of age, a woman's oestrogen levels decline and her periods end. This is called the menopause and is a normal part of ageing. The average age is 51 but this can vary. 

Most women will experience some symptoms. You may experience any of the following: 



Hot flushes, palpitation   

Mood swings/disturbance 

Sleep disturbance 

Lack of confidence 

Tiredness, exhaustion 


Irregular/heavy periods 

Anxiety/panic attacks 

Pain – diverse, body-wide            

Reduced cognitive function, confusion 

Genito-Urinary problems 


If you're experiencing any of these effects and are finding it hard to cope, it is important to seek help and support, especially if it is affecting your quality of life, as well as those you live with or care for. You can find guidance about when to see a GP and treatments available on the NHS website.  

The Menopause Charity and International Menopause Society can also offer sources of help and support.   

See our section on Looking after your body for more tips and guidance on maintaining good health. 


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