Stress and anxious thoughts

A burn injury is stressful for most people. There are many things for you to worry about, not least, the recovery of your child. You might also be concerned about the impact on the wider family, your job, and on top of this, you might be worrying that you just cannot get to sleep.

When you are anxious or worried, your body releases adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone that can make you feel tense or restless. It can increase your heart rate and breathing, cause your stomach to churn, and your mouth to become dry. Feeling stressed or anxious causes the brain to be alert and active. This means that it will also focus on any worries that you have. In all, this is the opposite of how your body and mind need to be for sleep. In this state, anxious thoughts keep you awake and being awake leads to more anxiety. It is a vicious cycle.

Below are 3 tips that can help you to change this:

1. Relaxation

Deep breathing and relaxation exercises can help you to calm your mind and reduce tension in your body.

2. Routine

Develop a regular routine at bedtime to help your body and mind prepare gradually for sleep. Get up at the same time every morning, even if you did not sleep well the night before. Only use your bedroom for sleeping (and sex). Don’t watch TV, talk on the phone, use the internet, or your mobile phone in bed. That way your body associates being in bed with being asleep, not being active or stimulated by technology.

3. Sleep diary

In the evening, a few hours before you go to bed, write down any worries that you have and your feelings about them. When you have finished put the diary to one side. Writing things down may help you to begin to process the worries and free your mind up for sleep later on. If you continue to worry in bed, then get up and write the worries down. You can tell yourself that you can try to deal with them at a certain time the next day because there’s probably nothing that you can do about them during the night.

“I kept a sleep diary. It does help.”