The stress that life generally brings is hard enough in today’s world as the demands of the external environment keep appearing to rise. Life is hard enough without the unpredictable change of circumstances, accidents, trauma, or misfortunes that are thrown at all of us at various times. So what happens when we needs some support?
In my line of work I predominantly treat anxiety, depression, and trauma. When I assess a new client who is presenting with anxiety or depression, it is common to hear stories of gradual exposure to more and more “typical” life demands until the stress becomes too much. The emerging panic and anxiety, or overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and helplessness sets in. If only they had come earlier. If only they had visited their doctor two years earlier for a referral before the change in confidence and the lowering of mood worsened to the point that they were now experiencing depression or anxiety.
The expression of sadness, stress or anger is much easier in emoji world. It is easier to just send a symbol without too much thought. In fact given the popularity of their use in today’s tech savvy world, I wonder whether many adolescents could accurately describe what sadness feels like without posting a frowning face with a blue tear. What is important to remember is that we can more simply manage periods of sadness, anger or anxiousness if we recognize their occurrence in the moment that they are happening. Strategies such as abdominal breathing control can help manage panic attacks, but breathing control is also a wonderfully easy strategy to use each day when feeling a little overwhelmed (particularly when the multi-tasking attempts to get it all done fail). Three minutes of reflection and relaxation, at the end of the day, each day, can make a difference.
With the increased recognition of mental health issues in our community, and continued media focus on the signs and symptoms, rates, and treatment options for mental illness, we are becoming more aware and open to the use of psychological therapy. It should also be used as an earlier intervention for stress management, before mental health declines. But to identify the early warning signs of developing mental illness, we need to reflect on how we feel each and every day; to stop, pause and consider how we are managing.
Taking the time to reflect on how you are doing, regularly, is important. It is hard to accept the notion that we all need to be a little selfish to survive mentally in today’s world, and that can be the biggest struggle for some of us. At the end of the day, who cares for you the most? You should.
Dr. Amanda Commons Treloar is a clinical psychologist and creator of the new psychological app called MyPsyDiary. For more details visit www.mypsydiary.com