The events of the recent times have introduced many difficulties and psychological stresses to our society. The constant, almost unstoppable development of technology has increased the pace of our lives, which means increased expectations and pressures not only at work but also in everyday life. In addition to this is the pandemic that has disrupted our normal lives, followed by the war in neighboring Ukraine, with its economic consequences for us all.
What general stress management techniques should we incorporate into our daily lives?
If we recognize the initial mild symptoms (increased anxiety, worry, sleep disturbance), it is worth considering what we can do for ourselves, what can help to alleviate our anxiety and how we can distract ourselves from negative thoughts. This can include:
- Establishing and maintaining a daily routine is essential for good mental health. Eating a healthy diet and being physically active are part of this. Exercise and relaxation help to reduce stress hormones, thereby reducing anxiety, which in turn leads to better sleep quality.
- Most transient sleep disorders can be eliminated by following a few simple sleep hygiene rules: routine bedtime habits, creating a suitable sleep environment, and a screen-free period prior to bedtime.
- Up-to-date information is very important, but for a set period. Browsing the news on the Internet is particularly anxiety-inducing. It should be done in a planned way, at a set time and only through reliable news sources.
- Take time for yourself. Even a few quiet minutes can be refreshing, as can listening to music, or taking a bath.
- Plan for the near future by creating an action plan and setting priorities: don't set world-changing goals, but try to find achievable, attainable goals for which you can reward yourself with whatever little treats you can.
- To keep our minds occupied, try to return to our previous favorite activities or find a new hobby, such as reading, sewing or even coloring mandalas. The possibilities are endless.
- Keeping in touch with loved ones and friends is important. Feeling that we are not alone with our problems is an important step in rebuilding our sense of security.
- For many of us, being close to nature has a calming effect, whether it's a good walk in the woods or tending our gardens and plants.
- Volunteering, offering help and spreading joy to others is often an excellent way to help ourselves.
- Try to pay more attention to positive life events that happen to us or around us. At the end of the day, it is a good idea to say these out loud or record them in a gratitude journal.
What are the typical symptoms of mental illness?
Symptoms most often start with increased anxiety, excessive worry and concern. This becomes a problem when it disrupts daily life:
- Fatigue, sleep disturbance, panic attacks develop.
- Mood swings: lack of involvement in family and social gatherings, loss of joy, emotional dullness, feelings of hopelessness and a lack of prospects.
- Lack of motivation occurs: we find it difficult to take the first steps towards our previously held goals.
- We experience a change in behavior: nervousness, irritability, restlessness or aggressiveness occurs.
- Mental functions may also be impaired: attention and concentration disorders, difficulty in making decisions, memory problems and fatigue may develop.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often associated with alcoholism, drug abuse and personal problems.
When should you seek professional help?
If you feel that the methods listed above have not worked, or your coping skills are exhausted and your symptoms are overwhelming or more extensive, then you should seek professional help. A professional can help clients by using psychotherapeutic methods or medication, or most frequently a combination of both. A safe, patient, accepting and caring therapeutic relationship helps recovery.