What's in your Stress Container?

I can't remember the last time I cried. I remember crying at my Mum's funeral. I'm sure I've cried since then - 18 years have passed after all!
I've recently told people that my tolerance is lower than it was than before I became a father a couple of months ago. Stress and disrupted sleep will do that. An NHS colleague described the last few months as being dumped on continuously. It does feel like that. There are days you are scrambling to keep near the top and other days you are peering like a Meerkat awaiting the next disaster.

No one is ever fully prepared for being a parent. There are quirks and phases, some last hours and others last months. There's pressure and people who know best even though it's been out of medical practice for almost 10 years.

All that being said, I wouldn't change a thing. I love my wife and I love my Son.

To any prospective parents reading this, take some time and spare capacity in your life and your mind. Be ready to ask for help and say 'No'. Be ready to do what is best for you and your clan. And when you think you have enough spare time and energy, make some more. You have a partner to support too and that had its own pressures, concerns, and rewards.

I've been so lucky to have work - so I'm not being a parent 24/7. You don't appreciate how much strain Mum is under because you are in a different mindset - stressed at work. I'm working full time in the NHS in addition to working self-employed and so recently felt very aggravated when someone suggested I do even more work - unpaid. I do quite a lot of volunteering as it is and when someone tries to take those tiny moments you have to enjoy family time, it's infuriating.

This brings me back to the feeling like I need a cry. Crying is OK. I sometimes feel like I need a good cry to let it out but for whatever reason, I can't. I've never found crying easy.

Everyone has a stress container. They are different shapes and fill at different rates. The pressures in my life and the dates in my diary are different to yours and this is reflected in the way we hold and manage our stress. This is something we discuss during the Mental Health First Aid course by MHFA England which I teach - details here. Something you find easy can fill someone else's stress container. When the bucket is full, it bulges and bursts with stress until we snap. We lash out, we snap, we cry. The expression "the straw which broke the camel's back" is great example of when something you might normally see as minor can be the event that buckles your bucket.

If you'd like to know more, then please consider becoming a mental health first aider. There are some good short courses out there for introduction, but I would strongly recommend an accredited course like the 2 Day course by St John's Ambulance or the 2 Day Online course I teach by MHFA England. Being a Mental Health First Aider helps you better support yourself, your staff and your customers in the same way a physical first aider does. It helps teach you to support and react in general everyday occurrences as well as big crisis - just as physical first aid supports you to use a plaster or to do CPR. In fact global company Deloitte published studies showing a positive case for employers investing in mental health, with an average return of £5 for every £1 spent.

Find out more about Mental Health First Aid at www.mentalhealthmatt.co.uk