If only she had recognised the signs earlier. Rather than pretending nothing was wrong, she could have reached out for help and support. In the end she had to take a complete break. She was on stress overload.
Larry came to see me with what his doctor had diagnosed as ‘high anxiety and moderate depression.’ He had been prescribed antidepressants and advised to take six weeks off work.
But, at home, Larry was spiraling into a deeper depression. With no reason to get up in the morning, Larry had taken to lying in bed and sleeping again in the afternoon. This meant that, at night time, he was wide awake until two or three in the morning.
‘I just don’t have any energy or enthusiasm for anything’ he complained.’ It’s not like me at all. I can’t cope with everyday life. I think I’m heading for a nervous breakdown.’
Certainly, low mood, anxiety and sleep disturbance can be some of the warning signs. Other symptoms to look out for include:
Loss of appetite, enjoyment or interest in food
Loss of interest in usual activities, work or hobbies
It’s fair to say that people who experience some or all of these symptoms become fearful about the future. If left unresolved for a long time, loss of confidence and loss of hope compound the problem as they start to withdraw from friends, work, hobbies and interests.
Seeing themselves doers, achievers or carers, they are used to others coming to them for help, not the other way round. They put on a brave face, refuse to acknowledge they need help and struggle on until the exhaustion takes complete hold. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can spot the signs early and start to take action:
Get Help With Your Stress and Happiness Levels
If you’re having trouble unwinding, try our guided meditation: Relax and Be Happy. In this 17 minute audio file, you will be gently guided down a winding path in your imagination and onto a relaxing beach where you will be encouraged to breathe stress away, learn to relax your body and begin to tap into those wonderful internal resources we all have.
Use Emotional and psychological intelligence
Understanding how your mind and body respond to stress is really important if you want to avoid emotional melt downs.
The two hemispheres of your brain cannot function optimally and simultaneously. The emotional hemisphere has the ability to ‘switch off’ rational thought. This ’emotional hijacking’ is a survival mechanism and is there to engage fight or flight when you need it, if you were under threat for instance.
But what you don’t want is for your brain to be in panic mode for any length of time. Recognise when you have moved into an emotional black or white thinking style. Clues are when you find yourself saying ‘my whole life is a mess’ or ‘nothing good has ever happened to me’.
Learn to take a step back from knee jerk reactions. Let your rational brain look for the problems….. and the solutions to any issues you have in your life. The rational brain sees all the shades of grey and all the possible solutions.
Avoid emotional hijacking but using both emotional and psychological intelligence.
Reach out for help
There’s nothing wrong with admitting when you’re feeling stressed or overloaded. Everyone needs to be heard from time to time. But if you are the strong silent type or if you think it is weak to look for support, you are missing a vital understanding of what it is to be human.
The human brain is a social organ and fares best when connected to other human brains. Isolation can bring not just loneliness but distorted thinking.
Find yourself a friend, colleague, counsellor, coach or family member who you can allow yourself to be ‘real’ with. Take off the ‘I can cope’ mask for a while and connect to others for help, support and advice. They will undoubtedly see the situation from a different point of view as they are not so emotionally connected to it.
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