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https://thementalhealthcoach.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Stress-Management-Strategies-for-New-Parents-4.png 800 1200 Nick McEwan-Hall https://thementalhealthcoach.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TMHC-Header-Logo-copy-300x138.png Nick McEwan-Hall2023-10-24 22:59:432023-10-24 23:03:29Stress Management Strategies for New Parents: Mental Health First Aid in Early Parenthood
The transition into parenthood is a life-changing journey, bringing with it an array of new responsibilities, emotions, and adjustments. While the arrival of a new family member can bring immense joy, it can also introduce significant stressors to both new mothers and fathers.
These stressors can impact mental and emotional well-being, making it crucial to develop practical coping mechanisms and stress management strategies that promote resilience, self-care, and support during this transformative time.
In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the unique mental health challenges faced by new parents and provide actionable self-help tools and stress management techniques tailored for those navigating the early stages of parenthood. Our goal is to empower new parents to develop resilience and coping strategies to ensure their mental health and well-being flourish alongside their growing family.
Throughout this blog article, we will discuss:
1. Recognizing the mental health challenges of early parenthood
2. Identifying stressors and warning signs of mental health concerns among new parents
3. The importance of self-care and nurturing emotional well-being during early parenthood
4. Practical stress management strategies for new parents: Tips and resources
5. Building a supportive network: The role of family, friends, and professional support in new parents’ mental health
6. Providing mental health first aid to new parents in crisis: Guidelines and considerations
7. Resources and services available to support new parents’ mental health and well-being
By exploring each of these topics, we aim to equip new parents and those who support them with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate the mental health challenges of early parenthood with resilience, confidence, and the ability to seek additional support when needed.
As a mental health first aider or caregiver, the responsibility to understand and compassionately support the mental health needs of new parents is an important one. By learning about and implementing effective stress management strategies, we can help create a more nurturing and understanding environment for new parents, their families, and their cherished new arrivals.
Recognizing the Mental Health Challenges of Early Parenthood
The journey into parenthood presents challenges that can significantly impact the mental health of new mothers and fathers. Some common mental health concerns include:
- Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: Affecting both new mothers and fathers, these conditions can cause prolonged periods of sadness, worry, and feelings of hopelessness or inadequacy.
- Sleep Deprivation: Caring for a newborn often involves disrupted sleep schedules, leading to exhaustion, irritability, and potential mood disorders.
- Shifts in Identity and Self-Esteem: Transitioning into a parenting role can prompt new parents to question their self-worth and lead to feelings of insecurity or self-doubt.
- Relationship Strains: The responsibilities and stresses of raising a newborn can put pressure on the couple’s relationship, potentially contributing to resentment, conflict, or a faltering support system.
Awareness of these challenges is essential for promoting resilience, fostering empathy, and encouraging new parents to seek appropriate support when needed.
Identifying Stressors and Warning Signs of Mental Health Concerns Among New Parents
Understanding the unique stressors associated with early parenthood and identifying possible warning signs of mental health concerns can help new parents and their support networks take proactive steps to address and manage these challenges.
Common stressors include:
- Feeling overwhelmed by new responsibilities
- Balancing work, personal life, and parenting
- Adapting to new routines and schedules
- Managing financial concerns related to raising a child
- Navigating changing relationships with friends, family, or romantic partners
Warning signs of potential mental health concerns may include:
- Persistent sadness, anxiety, or irritability
- Difficulties bonding with the baby
- Withdrawing from social or recreational activities
- Consistently feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, despite adequate rest or support
- Dramatic shifts in appetite, sleep patterns, or interest in personal care
The Importance of Self-Care and Nurturing Emotional Well-Being During Early Parenthood
Actively nurturing one’s emotional well-being and engaging in self-care is crucial for maintaining good mental health during early parenthood. Consider these self-care strategies:
- Schedule regular “me time” to re-energise and recharge, whether it’s engaging in a hobby, visiting friends, or simply relaxing.
- Share your feelings, concerns, and challenges with someone you trust, whether it’s your partner, a family member, or a close friend. You may even consider speaking with a professional counsellor.
- Practise self-compassion and let go of unrealistic expectations or pressures to be the “perfect parent.”
- Exercise regularly and maintain a balanced, nutritious diet to support both your physical and mental well-being.
- Prioritise sleep and rest as much as possible, understanding that adequate rest is vital to resilience and emotional health.
Practical Stress Management Strategies for New Parents: Tips and Resources
Developing and employing stress management techniques can help navigate the challenges of early parenthood. Some effective strategies include:
- Mindfulness and Relaxation: Practise deep breathing exercises, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to manage stress and anxiety in the moment.
- Time Management: Set realistic goals, break tasks into smaller steps, and delegate responsibilities when possible to help manage parenting and other responsibilities.
- Establish Routines: Create schedules for feeding, sleeping, and other daily tasks to provide a sense of stability and predictability for both parents and the baby.
- Social Support: Stay connected with family and friends, join parent support groups, or access online parenting resources to create a sense of community and shared experiences.
Building a Supportive Network: The Role of Family, Friends, and Professional Support in New Parents’ Mental Health
An essential aspect of mental health first aid for new parents involves building and sustaining a supportive network. Useful strategies include:
- Encouraging open, honest communication between partners and family members about the challenges faced and emotions experienced.
- Offering practical assistance, such as providing meals, helping with household tasks, or offering childcare so new parents can enjoy a break.
- Encouraging new parents to access professional support, such as support groups, parenting classes, or mental health services when appropriate.
Early parenthood is a time of immense joy and significant challenges. By understanding the unique mental health needs and pressures facing new parents, mental health first aiders and caregivers can support, nurture, and encourage resilience during this transformative period. With the right tools, education, and resources, new parents can confidently navigate the challenges of early parenthood and foster lasting well-being for both themselves and their growing families.
Are you interested in becoming a more compassionate and understanding individual while supporting those around you with mental health concerns? Look no further than The Mental Health Coach’s mental health first aid training. Our courses are designed to empower individuals to recognize and respond to mental health concerns in various capacities, including supporting new parents. By investing in your skills and knowledge, you can contribute to the well-being of others while becoming a more compassionate and understanding person overall.
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As a parent or guardian, ensuring the emotional well-being of your child is undoubtedly a top priority. However, navigating the complexities of mental health can be a daunting task. This is where Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training comes in, offering valuable skills and insight to support your children’s emotional well-being.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the importance of MHFA training for parents and guardians, as well as how it can empower you to confidently approach mental health challenges with your children.
By understanding the basics of MHFA and learning effective communication techniques, you can create a supportive environment at home where open and honest conversations about mental health are encouraged. Equip yourself with the tools and knowledge necessary to create a safe space where your child can thrive, ensuring their mental health is prioritised and nurtured.
Understanding the Importance of Mental Health First Aid for Parents and Guardians
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training offers a valuable opportunity for parents and guardians to be better prepared when faced with mental health challenges. Children and adolescents might experience feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, which can negatively impact their overall well-being.
Having the ability to understand, recognise, and respond to these issues is an essential part of creating a safe and supportive environment for your family. Some key benefits of MHFA training for parents and guardians include:
- Increased Mental Health Literacy: Understand the various mental health disorders and their associated signs and symptoms, promoting early intervention and timely support.
- Improved Communication Skills: Enhance your ability to discuss mental health concerns with your children effectively, fostering trust and encouraging open dialogue.
- Decreased Stigma: Normalise mental health discussions within your family, which can help break down barriers associated with seeking support and acknowledging mental health concerns.
- Greater Confidence in Providing Assistance: Feel more self-assured in your ability to offer appropriate support and guidance when faced with mental health challenges.
Identifying Mental Health Concerns in Your Child
Awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental health issues is crucial for parents and guardians. Children and adolescents might not always have the vocabulary or capacity to express their emotions or struggles accurately. Familiarising yourself with the warning signs helps to facilitate proactive support. Some potential indicators of mental health concerns include:
- Changes in Mood: A child experiencing prolonged or frequent sadness, irritability, or mood swings could be a signal of an underlying issue.
- Shifts in Behaviour: Withdrawal from social situations and activities they usually enjoy, unexplained aggression, or disinterest in school and academic performance might suggest a mental health concern.
- Physical Symptoms: Complaints of unexplained aches, pains, or an increased reliance on over-the-counter medications could be signs of emotional distress.
- Sleeping and Eating Differences: Disruptions in sleep patterns or appetite could indicate anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.
Recognising these signs can prompt early intervention, which is crucial for effective support and timely management of mental health issues.
MHFA Techniques for Communicating with Your Child about Mental Health
Effective communication is vital when discussing mental health concerns with your child. MHFA training can equip you with various techniques to promote open and constructive conversations. Consider the following strategies to ensure your conversations are respectful and supportive:
- Create a Safe Space: Provide a comfortable environment where your child feels free to express their emotions without fear of judgement or criticism.
- Active Listening: Pay full attention when your child speaks, showing genuine interest and empathising with their feelings. Refrain from interrupting and avoid assuming you know how they feel.
- Use Open-Ended Questions: Encourage your child to discuss their thoughts and emotions by asking questions that require more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, such as “Can you tell me more about how you’re feeling?”
- Be Patient: Some children may take longer to open up or may have difficulty articulating their emotions. Offer reassurance and support, allowing them the time they need to express themselves.
- Offer Guidance: Help your child explore potential solutions and coping strategies, empowering them to take charge of their mental health journey.
Integrating MHFA Principles into Your Parenting Approach
Incorporating MHFA techniques into your everyday parenting approach can foster a supportive and nurturing home environment where your children feel comfortable discussing their emotions and mental health. Here are some strategies for promoting a mentally healthy household:
- Establish Routines: Consistent routines can provide a sense of stability and predictability for your child, helping to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Model Healthy Behaviours: Demonstrate the importance of self-care, stress management, and open communication by practicing these habits yourself.
- Encourage Social Connections: Support your child in fostering strong connections with friends, family, and their community, as relationships can significantly impact mental health.
- Validate Emotions: Acknowledge and validate your child’s emotions, demonstrating that their feelings are important and should be taken seriously.
- Stay Informed: Stay up-to-date with mental health resources, news, and strategies, ensuring you remain knowledgeable and well-equipped to support your child’s emotional well-being.
Seeking Professional Help and Building a Support Network
While MHFA training equips you with fundamental skills to support your child’s mental health, it’s crucial to recognise when professional assistance may be necessary. If your child exhibits persistent or severe symptoms, consult with mental health professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, or counsellors.
They can provide expert guidance and recommend appropriate treatment options. Additionally, involve your child’s school and educators, as they can contribute to monitoring your child’s well-being and assist in implementing support strategies. Building a strong network of support for your family will help promote mental health resilience and emotional well-being for your child.
By integrating MHFA techniques into your everyday parenting approach, you can create a supportive environment where your child feels comfortable discussing their emotions and mental health concerns. Fostering a mentally healthy home helps cultivate a nurturing space where your children can thrive.
Enhancing Your Parenting Skills with MHFA Training
Mental Health First Aid training can significantly contribute to your parenting capabilities, providing you with practical skills, effective communication techniques, and valuable understanding of mental health challenges your child may face. By incorporating MHFA principles into your daily interactions and creating a secure, supportive environment, you can foster a strong foundation for your child’s emotional well-being and resilience.
Are you ready to become a more knowledgeable and confident advocate for your child’s mental health? Consider enrolling in a Mental Health First Aid course with The Mental Health Coach. Our courses provide you with the tools and resources you need to help your child navigate their mental health journey. Don’t wait – take the first step towards a brighter future for your family’s mental health. Visit our website to learn more and enroll in a course today.
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Exploring the intricate relationship between these concepts and their effects on our mental well-being is vital for those who experience them and those who wish to understand and provide emotional support.
Understanding the Differences
Let’s delve into each separately to grasp the nuances between these concepts.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare portrays loneliness as a mere emotion and a profound human experience.
Defined as a ‘subjective unpleasant or distressing feeling stemming from a perceived lack of connection to others’, it’s accompanied by an innate desire for more prosperous, more fulfilling social relationships.
Contrary to popular belief, loneliness doesn’t merely arise from being alone. Instead, it’s birthed from the perception of the quality of our relationships, a testament to the idea that one can feel lonely even in a crowd.
Isolation extends beyond the realms of mere physical distance. It’s a two-dimensional experience.
Physically, it’s the tangible absence of regular social interactions, limited roles, and sparse connectivity. Emotionally, it paints a more profound picture. It encapsulates the gut-wrenching feeling of being an island, a sense of detachment even when amongst a sea of faces.
Emotional isolation is a reminder that the mind’s internal tapestry can often be at odds with the outside world, leading to feelings of disconnect and estrangement.
Solitude stands distinct from its counterparts, embodying a sense of purposeful seclusion. It isn’t born from absence but from choice.
This conscious decision to embrace alone time offers a sanctuary, a haven for introspection, rejuvenation, and self-discovery. While loneliness and isolation may evoke despair, solitude is the balm, allowing one to recharge, reflect, and emerge revitalised.
It’s the quiet assertion of finding joy in one’s company, proving that sometimes the best conversations and revelations happen in silence.
Impacts on Mental Health
To truly grasp the impact of these concepts on our mental wellness, it’s essential to dive deeper into their long-term effects.
Effects of Prolonged Loneliness and Isolation
Loneliness and social isolation, if left unchecked, can slowly erode one’s emotional health. Over time, these feelings can escalate from mere discomfort to severe psychological distress.
Chronic loneliness is not just an emotional scar; it’s a precursor to ailments like depression, anxiety, and even cognitive decline. The ramifications can span from heightened stress levels to increased vulnerability to physical illness.
Global events, such as the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, further exacerbated these emotions. The enforced quarantine and physical distancing isolated many and magnified feelings of loneliness, plunging countless into emotional turmoil.
Therapeutic Benefits of Voluntary Solitude
In stark contrast to the dreary shades of loneliness and isolation, solitude is a silver lining. Embracing alone time by choice offers a reprieve, an oasis amidst the chaos.
This self-imposed retreat can be likened to a mental detox, allowing space for reflection, clarity, and even creativity. It’s a controlled environment, allowing for self-growth, exploration, and understanding of one’s emotional depths.
Common Causes of Loneliness and Isolation
The road leading to loneliness and isolation is often paved with myriad factors.
Socio-environmental shifts, like relocating to an unfamiliar city or navigating the intricacies of a new job, can often leave one feeling adrift, grappling with the overwhelming need to belong.
Meanwhile, life’s unpredictabilities, such as grieving the loss of a cherished individual or nursing the wounds of a broken relationship, can be isolating experiences. And then, personal life choices play a role too.
An overt focus on career ambitions, reluctance to cultivate profound connections or even fear of vulnerability can act as barriers, distancing one from the warm embrace of companionship and community.
The Positive Side of Solitude
While the echoes of loneliness and isolation often resonate with discomfort and despair, solitude stands apart, promising a realm of quiet reflection and rejuvenation. The distinction lies primarily in choice.
When solitude is chosen, not imposed, it can be a sanctuary of peace and introspection.
Self-Reflection and Introspection
In today’s fast-paced world, moments of solitude provide an invaluable pause, enabling one to dive into the depths of one’s psyche. It offers a sacred space, unhindered by external noise, where individuals can self-reflect.
This silent dialogue with oneself aids in understanding personal desires, aspirations, and the underlying reasons for specific emotions and reactions.
Relaxation and Emotional Respite
Solitude can be the perfect antidote to modern life’s relentless hustle and bustle. One can truly relax from the din of daily routines and societal expectations.
This break is physical and emotional, offering a chance to distance oneself from stressors and immerse in the tranquillity of one’s own company.
Personal Growth and Discovery
Every moment spent in solitude is an opportunity for growth. It’s a crucible where the self is both the alchemist and the metal, transforming.
Through reflection and relaxation, one can identify areas of improvement, cultivate new skills, or even discover hidden passions. This self-imposed isolation fosters creativity, inspires new perspectives, and drives individual evolution.
Enhanced Emotional Processing
Solitude facilitates a more evident emotional landscape. Individuals can confront, process, and understand feelings without external stimuli and opinions.
It is a safe space to navigate complex emotions, dissect past experiences, and derive actionable insights for future interactions.
Grasping the intricate relationship between loneliness, isolation, and solitude is pivotal in navigating the emotional labyrinth of our lives. While the former two might test our mental fortitude, embracing solitude can light the path toward self-awareness, healing, and growth.
Coping Mechanisms and Strategies
Navigating the dense forest of loneliness, isolation, and even the challenges of solitude requires a toolkit of robust coping mechanisms.
By equipping ourselves with practical strategies, we cannot only ward off the debilitating effects of these emotions but also transform them into avenues for personal growth and emotional resilience.
Building Social Connections
At the heart of human nature lies the desire for connection. Actively seeking out social interactions can significantly curb feelings of loneliness.
Joining local clubs or societies, volunteering for community service, attending workshops, or merely reconnecting with old friends and family can pave the way for meaningful relationships.
In the digital age, online communities also offer platforms to forge connections based on shared interests or experiences.
Engaging in Activities
Diving deep into activities acts as a double-edged sword, providing both a distraction from feelings of loneliness and a pathway to self-discovery.
Engaging can infuse life with purpose, momentum, and joy, whether picking up a new hobby, enrolling in courses, exercising, or merely indulging in books.
By doing so, we occupy our minds and create opportunities for social interaction and skill-building.
Seeking Professional Help
Acknowledging when things get tough and seeking help is a testament to the strength, not weakness.
Mental health professionals offer a safe space for individuals to express their feelings, providing tailored coping strategies, tools, and therapies.
Their expertise can be pivotal in turning the tide against persistent feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Establishing a Routine
One often underestimated coping strategy is the establishment of a daily routine. A structured day provides predictability amidst the chaos, ensuring a rhythm and purpose to each day.
One can foster a sense of control and achievement by interspersing activities that promote both physical and mental wellness—such as meditation, journaling, or exercise—into one’s routine.
Reconnecting with nature serves as a balm for the soul.
Walking in a park, tending to a garden, or listening to the rhythm of rain can induce feelings of tranquillity and connection to the larger universe.
Such experiences can remind us that we are part of something vast and interconnected.
While feelings of loneliness and isolation can be daunting, armed with the right strategies and a proactive approach, we can combat these emotions and mould them into stepping stones towards a more fulfilled, connected, and resilient existence.
Anna’s Story: Rediscovering Passion
Anna, a 28-year-old graphic designer, relocated for work and struggled with loneliness away from her close-knit community. She honed her skills by joining a local art class and forming deep connections with like-minded individuals.
David’s Experience: Virtual Connections
Post-retirement, David felt isolated, missing daily interactions with colleagues. He decided to dive into online gaming and discovered a community where he could connect with others, reducing feelings of social isolation.
Understanding the nuances between loneliness, isolation, and solitude is vital in the multifaceted realm of our emotions. These feelings, although intertwined, serve different roles in our lives.
While loneliness and isolation can be challenging to navigate, solitude, when embraced willingly, can offer profound moments of self-reflection and growth.
Always remember, it’s okay to seek out connections, to carve out time for alone time, and to ask for emotional support when the weight of these feelings becomes too burdensome. Our mental and emotional health is paramount, and there’s strength in seeking help and understanding when needed.
Let’s address some commonly asked questions regarding these intricate emotions.
What is the difference between loneliness and isolation?
Loneliness is a subjective feeling of lacking meaningful social connections, while isolation is an objective state of having limited social contact or engagement.
Can solitude be good for your mental health?
Yes, voluntary solitude can foster self-reflection, relaxation, and personal growth, providing mental rejuvenation and clarity.
How does prolonged isolation affect the brain?
Prolonged isolation can lead to cognitive decline, increased stress hormones, anxiety, depression, and reduced ability to concentrate and make decisions.
What are the primary causes of loneliness in today’s society?
Causes include rapid societal changes, urbanisation, technology reliance, reduced community participation, and significant life transitions like moving or losing loved ones.
Are there positive aspects to experiencing loneliness?
While challenging, loneliness can drive individuals to seek social connections, introspect, and develop resilience and self-awareness.
How can I cope with feelings of loneliness and isolation?
Build social connections, engage in activities, and seek professional help.
What are the signs that someone is struggling with their mental health due to loneliness?
These can be, for example, withdrawal, persistent sadness, and decreased motivation or interest in activities.
Is there a connection between social media use and feelings of isolation?
Excessive or passive social media use can amplify feelings of isolation and loneliness.
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Loneliness – it’s often perceived as a simple, temporary emotion one might experience during periods of isolation or when feeling disconnected from others. However, in recent years, loneliness has revealed itself as a complex issue that transcends the boundaries of a person’s emotions. Instead, loneliness has evolved into a collective, silent epidemic gripping societies worldwide, posing severe risks to mental health and overall well-being.
As one of the most severe by-products of an increasingly interconnected global society, loneliness affects people from all walks of life. Whether triggered by societal issues like the rapid spread of digital technology or the prevalence of work-from-home policies, the adverse effects of loneliness can no longer be overlooked. What was once considered a stifling yet private emotion is now a significant threat to public health and a source of immense concern for communities and governments alike.
In this article, we delve deeply into the problem of loneliness, discuss its multifaceted implications, and consider various perspectives. We pay special attention to the role of governments in the UK and Australia over the last few years in addressing loneliness as an issue of national importance. This in-depth analysis aims to foster understanding, promote compassion and empathy, and ultimately contribute to the ongoing conversation surrounding the global epidemic of loneliness.
Understanding the Loneliness Epidemic
To comprehend the extent of the loneliness epidemic, it is critical to recognise the different underlying factors contributing to it. Loneliness stems from various sources, including personality traits, mental health issues, social circumstances, geographical location, and the increasing prevalence of remote work practices. Additionally, the LGBTQIA+ community, elderly population, and people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to experiencing loneliness. These factors reveal the need for targeted interventions from governments, communities, and people to address loneliness.
In a world increasingly reliant on digital technology and online platforms for communication, an ever-growing digital divide further perpetuates loneliness. Those lacking internet access or digital literacy may face immense challenges staying connected with family and friends, exacerbating feelings of isolation. It is essential to identify ways to bridge this gap and ensure that online communication remains accessible, inclusive, and conducive to fostering genuine human connections.
The UK’s Approach to Combating Loneliness
The United Kingdom is at the forefront of governmental action against loneliness by appointing a dedicated Minister for Loneliness in 2018. The UK government has since implemented a National Strategy for Tackling Loneliness, embracing a multi-sector approach designed to address the issue on multiple fronts.
This innovative strategy includes measures to foster social connection, invest in community infrastructure, and support health initiatives. The UK government not only recognises the importance of community engagement but emphasises that each person has a role in combating loneliness. This holistic approach acknowledges that loneliness is a complex issue requiring collaboration to tackle its root causes effectively.
The National Strategy for Tackling Loneliness provides a framework for more coordinated solutions and fosters partnerships between governmental bodies, organisations, and persons in the fight against loneliness. By incorporating lessons from this successful model, other nations have the potential to develop strategies that promote social connection and well-being.
Australia’s Approach to Combating Loneliness
One in four Australians aged between 12 and 89 experience problematic levels of loneliness. At any given time, the estimated prevalence of alarming levels of loneliness is around 5 million Australians. While the financial burden on Australia’s health service has not been quantified, equivalent costs to Medicare in the USA have been estimated at $6.7 billion annually.
Given the high prevalence rates of loneliness and the worsening of this issue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian government has been urged to address significant gaps in the social and healthcare system to deliver a more sustainable, effective and efficient response to address loneliness and social isolation. In response, the federal government implemented a multifaceted approach to combat loneliness, recognising no one-size-fits-all solution to this complex problem.
One key aspect of this approach is the creation of community hubs, such as the Village Hubs Program from Independent Living Assessment, which serve as central gathering places for older individuals to connect. These hubs offer various activities and services to unite more aged Australians and foster community. Additionally, the government has invested in digital initiatives, providing online platforms that allow individuals with similar interests or experiences to connect and form meaningful relationships.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian government, in partnership with the R U OK? Foundation and The Australian Psychological Society also formally held and discussed a National Strategy to Address Loneliness and Social Isolation in 2021 – 2022. Their aim was the creation of the Ending Loneliness Together (ELT) initiative, which aims to raise awareness and reduce the adverse effects of loneliness and social isolation in our community through evidence-based interventions and advocacy.
Inspired by the work of the UK Campaign to End Loneliness and the growing research evidence of the biological, psychological, social and economic impact of loneliness and social isolation, Ending Loneliness Together has drawn together knowledge from Australian and international universities along with service delivery expertise from community groups, professional organisations, government agencies and skilled volunteers, to address loneliness in Australia.
They have suggested and sought to implement four solutions:
- Fund an evidence-based national community awareness campaign to improve understanding of loneliness, challenge public misconceptions and stigma, upskill Australians to manage their loneliness better, and empower others to assist.
- Fund the development of a National Social E-Health Portal, including developing an online database of all health and community sector programs and services tackling loneliness and social isolation nationwide to redirect at-risk individuals to the appropriate local solutions.
- Develop evidence-based frameworks to guide program and service providers to identify, assess, monitor and refer individuals experiencing or at risk of loneliness to existing services and other informal pathways.
- Develop a set of national competencies and training modules to facilitate best practice approaches to assist socially vulnerable people, including those with mental ill health.
Overall, Australia’s proactive steps towards combating loneliness are making significant strides in promoting social connectedness. By recognising the importance of such suggested strategies, we can look forward to a progressive approach to the future of mental health services within Australia.
Implementing Community Solutions to Loneliness
While governmental action is crucial in addressing the loneliness epidemic, each community is instrumental in mitigating feelings of isolation and fostering social connection. Local organisations, such as community centres, libraries, and sports clubs, can provide safe spaces for people to engage in meaningful activities and establish supportive networks. By supporting these grassroots initiatives, communities can facilitate meaningful connections and enable a sense of belonging among residents.
In Australia, organisations such as Beyond Blue and The Australian Shed Movement are community initiatives that have gained traction in recent years. By offering targeted programs, these organisations contribute to forging social connections and encouraging people to seek support when feeling lonely. Engaging with such community resources is critical in alleviating the loneliness epidemic.
The Role of Technology in Tackling Loneliness
Despite technology’s reputation for contributing to feelings of isolation, it can also provide innovative solutions that combat loneliness and foster connection. The global COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the power of technology in connecting people through virtual events and experiences during enforced isolation. Beyond the pandemic, these virtual engagements have the potential to bridge geographical divides and create a renewed sense of global community.
Developing digital tools that promote social interaction, empathy, and understanding is essential to reduce loneliness. Online forums, discussion groups, and community-specific platforms can foster connections between persons with similar experiences, increase access to supportive networks, and ultimately empower users to build relationships in a digital environment. By focusing on building digital connections, we can harness the power of technology to transform our digital landscape into one that is inclusive, compassionate, and conducive to fostering genuine relationships.
Fostering a World of Connection
The loneliness epidemic presents a significant challenge for both individuals and communities around the globe. Addressing it requires a multi-faceted approach, acknowledging the complex nature of the issue and incorporating insights from successful models like the UK’s National Strategy for Tackling Loneliness. By fostering a collaborative effort involving governments, communities, organisations, and individuals, we can create a more connected world and less burdened by the weight of isolation.
Finding innovative ways to combat loneliness, utilising technology to build connections, and supporting grassroots community initiatives are essential steps in our journey to create a future in which loneliness is acknowledged, understood, and more manageable for those who experience it. By engaging with the issue of loneliness on both a societal and personal level, we can work together to minimise its impact and promote a brighter, more socially connected world for all.
That said, we at The Mental Health Coach offer mental health first aid courses, counselling, coaching, and much more to help individuals and groups stay on top of their mental health needs. Contact us today and get the expert help you need from our mental health coach!
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Personal conflicts often happen when a person’s thoughts, viewpoints, and values don’t match someone else’s.
While conflict may involve trivial matters rather than serious discussions, even those can grow into bigger problems if not resolved. This is especially true when it comes to people you see every day, like family members and friends.
Depending on the motivator of conflict, trying to resolve it may seem unnecessary. After all, the involved party’s idiosyncrasies are also factors in the situation. These could be temperament, personality, generation gaps, and even past feuds.
Some people would think that “just leaving it alone” is the right thing to do. However, it’s wrong to believe that those matters will go away on their own.
Perhaps, a loved one has taken something of yours without permission, which could eventually lead to a frivolous argument. Without establishing boundaries and having a conversation right then and there, the same argument could resurface in a future discussion as a way of attacking the other person.
No matter how simple, all personal conflict should be resolved as soon as possible. The following tips will help you properly address them before they get serious.
Change Your Perspective
It can be difficult to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Indeed, we care a lot more about how we feel and how a situation looks to us. But, are you sure the situation would look the same to everyone?
Your circumstances depend a lot on what you’re currently dealing with. If you’re stressed out because you just got fired, you’ll deal with conflict differently than someone who just got a promotion, for instance. Very often, it’s not about how conflict affects us – it’s about how much we get affected by it.
A smart way of dealing with this is to take a different perspective.
“Ask yourself how an unbiased outsider would see the situation,” former life coach Fay Agathangelou writes for HealthyPlace. “Are you misinterpreting the reality and is it really as bad, or as negative, as you perceive it to be?”
When doing this exercise, emotions will get in the way. In the beginning, attempting to switch your perspective may sound outright crazy. You’re the one who’s being “attacked,” after all. Right?
Once you get skilled in changing your perspective, you may figure out that this wasn’t the case at all. As an example, you may have judged constructive criticism as a personal attack.
Speaking of which…
Don’t Treat Everything As a Personal Attack
When even helpful criticism sounds like a personal attack to you, that means your confidence needs readjusting. Taking things personally is a telltale sign of low self-esteem.
When you’re insecure about yourself, that makes you sensitive to the words of others – even if they don’t mean any harm. In this case, it’s usually you who’s interpreting things in a negative light. Most certainly, this will result in personal conflict.
Here’s one way to prevent yourself from thinking that way: if you have a low self-esteem, it’s fair to say that you have a distorted vision about yourself and reality. If you had a high self-esteem, other people’s contrasting opinions wouldn’t hurt you as much, as you’d be able to filter them.
When it comes to improving your self-esteem, a counsellor can help you pinpoint the root cause and work with you on improving yourself.
Granted, some things will be personal attacks. And that’s fine – when people are rude to you, that says a lot more about who they are. It’s possible that they’re having a bad day (or a bad life), so you don’t have to take what they say to heart.
If someone criticises something you do, ask yourself if there’s any truth to what they told you. Is there something good you can take out of their criticism? If not, let it go. If the answer is yes, use their perspective to improve. There’s nothing wrong with being wrong sometimes.
Control Your Emotions
The worst thing you can do is allow harmful emotions to take over during conflict.
Arguments don’t need to be heated. However, when clashing personalities are involved, pointing fingers is a lot more satisfactory. Suddenly, the argument becomes about hurting the other person rather than trying to solve the issue.
Let your emotions get out of hand, and you may end up saying things you don’t mean. Such impulsive emotional reactions could take a toll on your mental health, resulting in shame and guilt.
For this reason, it’s important to take a step back during arguments. Instead of lashing out, you may need a “time-out” in order to reflect and ask yourself:
“If I say this, will it be helpful or harmful?”
“Will I be feeling the same way in a few hours?”
“Are we just trying to attack each other at this point?”
Sometimes, even when you’re trying to be calm and level-headed, the other person won’t be doing the same. In this case, walking away is your best option. When emotions take over, rational conversations go down the drain – so it’s best to return to the conversation when the other person is calm.
Consider Underlying Issues
Here’s a mindset shift: people don’t care about you as much as you think. When you’re in conflict with someone else, it’s easy to think that you’re on that person’s mind 24/7, and vice-versa. Yet, in reality, they have more important things to worry about. And that includes their own lives.
According to Workplace Strategies for Mental Health, “in most cases, family, finances, health, reputation or security are primary issues. Consider what might be behind the other person’s behaviour.”
With that in mind, try to remind yourself that such issues are what’s causing them to act that way. It’s not about you.
Learn to Let It Go When It’s Time
Resolving conflict isn’t always simple. After all, conflict can only be solved when everyone’s needs are met. Until then the conflict may be dormant, but it won’t be settled. Unless, of course, one of the parties is humble enough to gently let go.
The following quote from Your DOST just might open your eyes to how powerful forgiveness can be:
“It’s human to make mistakes. Learn to forgive rather than holding grudges against each other. Reacting to our anger, our mind stops functioning and we give up to our temper.” As a reminder, your temper may not be what you feel in your heart.
https://thementalhealthcoach.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/pexels-mikhail-nilov-6964361-scaled.jpg 1756 2560 Nick McEwan-Hall https://thementalhealthcoach.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TMHC-Header-Logo-copy-300x138.png Nick McEwan-Hall2023-03-08 09:08:592023-07-31 22:34:21Common Relationship Problems
All couples argue for several reasons. In fact, research from ScienceDaily tells us that even happy and fulfilled couples have their moments. Interestingly, happy couples tend to argue about the exact same things as unhappy couples – topics like marriage, children, money, in-laws, and their intimacy.
Every single amorous relationship will experience turbulence at some point. To some extent, disagreement can be healthy, and challenge couples to grow together.
However, when arguments become frequent, this is a sign that something needs to change on one or both sides of the relationship.
For couples, understanding the main sources of conflict can be useful in helping them mitigate issues. According to the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors (AIPC), sources of marital conflict come from unmet needs, wants, and desires. Issues related to communication, money, and trust may soon follow.
Below are the sources of common relationship problems, as well as how to prevent them from escalating.
We all know how important communication is in all areas of life. Without proper communication, people are unable to convey their needs or share their points of view in a sensible manner. That’s why communication skills are essential for relationship success.
If communication is the basis of any good relationship, that means poor communication is capable of ruining relationships on its own. It’s interesting how most people vouch for open communication between partners, but when push comes to shove, they don’t apply that practice to their own marriage.
That doesn’t mean that communicating with a partner is an easy task. Just like empathy, communication is a skill that can – and should – be mastered. Besides, certain topics can be uncomfortable to talk about. The more couples get used to dutifully practising proper communication, the easier it’ll be for them to power through difficult topics.
As far as communication goes, it’s better to feel uncomfortable than to say nothing at all. So talk to each other, and be candid about it.
As health writer and editor Sanjana Gupta writes for VeryWellMind, “secrecy tends to erode trust, so when your partner is able to be transparent and allows space to explore topics that might trigger your mistrust, you can begin to feel more at ease and begin to let your guard down.”
Poor communication can range from giving someone the silent treatment to speaking in accusatory tones. Non-verbal communication also plays a role. Sometimes, our feelings don’t match our words – and it’s often our facial expressions and gestures that matter most. If you say something when you mean something else, this will only weaken a bond.
“If people in a relationship can master communication, you’ll be far less likely to experience other common relationship problems,” Nationally Board Certified Counsellor Meaghan Rice writes for Talkspace.
Relationships and money go together. This is a hard pill to swallow, as most of us want a relationship based on love and passion alone. Unfortunately, that’s not how relationships work.
Of course, a lack of communication is part of the equation. Because money is such a sensitive discussion topic, many couples avoid talking about their financial situations early in their relationship. This may lead to mistrust and financial trouble down the road, because one or both parties were dishonest about their spending habits in the beginning.
Therefore, if you’re committed to a relationship, be honest about your finances from the start. This simple behaviour is enough to prevent serious financial issues and arguments as a couple.
If a partner has been a victim of trauma, it’s not their fault. Still, it can be challenging to try to figure someone out when not even they know what’s going on.
Traumatic events come in many forms. When we talk about trauma, we’re talking about past troubling situations such as discrimination, homelessness, neglect, sexual and/or emotional abuse, and loss.
“When someone is considered traumatised by an experience, it means that the intense emotions from the event are essentially stuck in their nervous system,” says Christy O’Shoney, psychotherapist at myTherapyNYC.
These emotions include, but aren’t limited to:
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Refusing to engage in conversation
According to O’Shoney, “because trauma can interrupt emotional processing, those who have experienced trauma often struggle to articulate what is really going on inside of them.” For this reason, it’s necessary to develop compassion for your partner and educate yourself on trauma.
Perhaps, your partner may not be aware that trauma may result in such behaviours. In this case, having both of you seek information about their specific trauma can be enlightening.
Understandably, it can be exhausting for any couple to power through traumatic events – particularly when both members have dealt with some kind of trauma. In this case, seeking mental help is the smarter solution.
A Lack of Trust
If you crumple a piece of paper, you may undo it. But the wrinkles will remain.
This is why trust is such a vital component in healthy relationships: once it disintegrates, it’s hard to earn it back. Trusting your partner brings the piece of mind that the person you’re with will always be on your side. That they mean what they say. And that they’re able to keep promises.
On the flip side, “when your partner’s actions are not aligned with their words, you will begin to learn that they are not trustworthy. Repeated violations or consistent hurtful behaviours erode trust,” says Doctor of Psychology Sabrina Romanoff.
Besides, a lack of trust rarely walks alone. Along with it may come doubt, insecurity, jealousy, and suspicion. All of which are telltale signs of when a relationship is about to crumble.
If Both Want It, Both Can Make It Work
In the words of Amy Rauer, associate professor of child and family studies,”if couples feel that they can work together to resolve their issues, it may give them the confidence to move on to tackling the more difficult issues.” A relationship means commitment, which means teamwork at every step.
Just because there’s a problem, that doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship is in trouble. Values, opinions, and beliefs will clash at one point, even if you’re both on cloud nine.
It’s up to the couple to resolve the issue through open and honest communication, or allow it to escalate to a point of no return. As long as the two members are willing to make things work, any common relationship problem can be resolved.
With that in mind, take time to assess whether you’re taking your partner’s wants and needs into consideration, and vice-versa. Talk openly and often, even if it’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss.
The sooner couples choose to deal with their relationship problems together, the less room they’ll make for suspicions and accusations in the long term.
https://thementalhealthcoach.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/pexels-nothing-ahead-4502492-scaled.jpg 1707 2560 Nick McEwan-Hall https://thementalhealthcoach.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TMHC-Header-Logo-copy-300x138.png Nick McEwan-Hall2023-03-07 21:27:182023-07-21 23:14:04Coping With Big Life Changes
Human brains aren’t wired for change. Yet change is inevitable, and it can be a difficult process most of the time. From getting married to moving to a different city, change is what keeps life moving – even though it may bring drawbacks along with it.
In this case, what should we do when change is necessary for growth?
Though we aren’t required to embrace change, we must allow our brains enough time to adjust to the events at play. Whether it’s a big or small change, we need some time to regroup and care for our mental health along the way.
Most importantly, we need to switch our perspective around change. Change may result in what we call cognitive dissonance, which happens when two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes clash. If you believe things should stay as they are and a wave of change comes along, you’ll feel uncomfortable. That explains why a lot of us dislike change. According to VeryWellMind, “People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and perceptions, so this conflict causes feelings of unease or discomfort.”
The way you face change will play a role on how you feel about your circumstances – as well as life in general. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you cope with and navigate big life changes.
Don’t Fight the Process
You’re bound to feel uncertain at times. Allow yourself to feel confused and not know what the next step may bring. Allow things to be unexpected, and you’ll foster a better relationship with uncertainty.
Besides, avoid blaming yourself for wanting to stick to things as they are now. Think about it: life has jolted you out of a comfortable position, a daily routine, and challenged you to face something new. If anything, you’re allowed to be sad, mad, and angry.
Even if this period of change is a blessing in disguise, you don’t have to like it at first.
By the way: just because change may start out badly, that doesn’t mean it’ll be bad forever. The following phrase is a self-affirmation suggestion from Talkspace, which sums it up nicely: “Uncertainty simply means I don’t know the future. It does not mean the future is bad.”
Depending on how stressful your situation is, it may feel better to just “wait and see.” After all, the future’s not ours to see, right? That’s correct – but the future’s ours to plan.
What you choose to do today will impact tomorrow. Delaying things will only increase anxiety and uncertainty.
There are easy ways to keep track of change, and even diminish its impact. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- If you know you can perform better with a to-do list or some form of step-by-step documentation, write down every step you’ll need to take to simplify the process.
- Whenever possible, save money. This will help you avoid stressful financial problems down the road. The change may be hard as it is, so it’s important to avoid stacking money problems on top of it.
- Consider emergencies. Sometimes, thinking about and planning for a worst-case scenario can help ease anxiety. If you’re prepared for the worst, the “best” becomes more manageable.
- Engage in self-reflection. How can this situation change you into a better person? Can it bring new opportunities to your life? New beginnings?
You don’t have to think of making plans while the shock is still wearing off. It’s quite the contrary: you’ll need to be level-headed in order to make sound decisions. Allow the dust to settle before you can start extracting great outcomes out of the change.
Know That Even Positive Changes Can Be Difficult
When we think of change, we may think of losing a loved one. Going broke. Or any of the “big ones” we may face at some point in life.
However, change isn’t always bad. Even good changes, those you know will bring happiness to everyone involved, can be time-consuming and stressful. Again: we’re not wired for change. Regardless of what kind of change it is, our bodies will resist it.
“Even change that’s generally positive, such as celebrating your new marriage or having a baby, registers in the brain the same way as a more difficult event,” says Dr. Srini Pillay, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “The brain feels more comfortable with old patterns, and anything new presents a dilemma.”
Think of when you’re buying a new house. That’s an exciting prospect. However, you still have to deal with paperwork, contracts, mortgage payments, and everything that comes with a new property. The outcome may be exciting, whereas the process can be arduous. That happens to the best of us.
Don’t Forget About Self-Care
Not everybody is fond of the term “self-care,” and it’s not hard to understand why: some people think caring for themselves involves some sort of step-by-step checklist.
If, to you, self-care means putting on a face mask and taking a bath, think again. Self-care is, as the name suggests, an action of caring for oneself. And caring for oneself can mean so many different things.
Not only does the concept of self-care vary from person to person, but it also varies from day to day. All you need is to discover which activities work for you.
It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself, particularly during trying times. It’s hard to find the energy to stop and breathe for a minute when things go awry. Still, self-care can bring a number of benefits to your mental health, and even help the process along.
What does self-care mean to you? Here are just a few options that might resonate with you:
- Talking to a loved one
- Eating foods you enjoy
- Taking a walk
- Playing with a pet
- Creating art
- Watching your favorite movie or show
- Taking social media breaks
- Watching the sunset
- Going out for coffee
- Taking a break from work
- Listening to music
- Working out
Of course, you shouldn’t forget to build the healthy foundation your body needs to thrive. As needless as it may sound, your body needs proper hydration, nutrition, and sleep. If the change you’re going through is making you feel bad, you’ll feel a whole lot worse if you’re sleep-deprived, dehydrated, or hungry.
No one gets through life alone. Even if you’re reading self-help books to navigate a difficult process, you’re still counting on someone else’s knowledge to get by. If you’re reading this article, that means you’re not alone.
You aren’t supposed to deal with major changes on your own. Especially when such changes involve illness, injury, or loss. You didn’t ask for that, and you need all of the support you can get until you can get back on your feet. Trying to undergo such events by yourself can worsen any existing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Whatever you do, don’t bottle up your feelings. If you’re struggling with your transition, you shouldn’t hesitate to talk to a mental health professional.
“In some cases, psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two may help deal with symptoms of stress caused by changes in your life,” says Kendra Cherry, MS.
If, for some reason, you’re unable to reach professional help, be sure to talk to an understanding friend or family member. They may offer unexpected tips and healthy coping mechanisms that will make your transition easier. Don’t underestimate the power of letting it all out.
Learning to Accept Change is Key to Adaptation
Once you accept that change is inevitable and focus your energy on finding better ways to cope, the process becomes smoother. It won’t necessarily become easier – but it will become more manageable.
No matter what you do, you can’t escape or control change. All you can control is what you’ll do about it. Besides, turbulent periods may lead to beautiful opportunities, even when they’re generated from pain and sorrow.
Don’t beat yourself up for rejecting uncertainty in the beginning, but don’t hesitate to welcome the unknown with an open heart. Surround yourself with loving people. Take care of your body and mind. You’ll surprise yourself with how much better things can become.
https://thementalhealthcoach.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/featured-.png 1080 1080 admin https://thementalhealthcoach.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TMHC-Header-Logo-copy-300x138.png admin2022-02-23 21:38:102023-07-31 22:17:11Relationship Coaching – How To Strengthen Your Interpersonal Relationships
Having trouble forming interpersonal relationships in our professional or personal life? You aren’t alone. Interpersonal relationships and skills are an essential part of both the professional and personal toolbox. If you’re the kind of person who needs help strengthening your interpersonal relationships it might be time to call in an expert; a relationship coach.
The Mental Health Coach is here to provide you with tips and constructive education that will help you to become more confident and help to build up that interpersonal toolbox. Our Relationship Mental Health Coaching sessions have been specifically designed to help boost your confidence, empathy and communication skills so that you can make the most out of every interaction.
Why are interpersonal relationships so important? Strong interpersonal relationships allow you to gain allies, secure business deals and help to bring out the best in others. Which can ultimately lead to more job fulfilment and increase your prospects of career advancement.
Here are six tips to strengthen your interpersonal skills:
- Practice active listening. Maintain eye contact with the person speaking and repeat what they say in their own words. This will ensure that the speaker feels heard and also help you to be able to recall the conversation in the future.
- Practice Empathy. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. This will allow you to gain a well-rounded view of things as you allow yourself to see the world from other people’s perspectives.
- Be Assertive. Show confidence in your opinions and your abilities. Set boundaries for yourself and others and don’t be afraid to communicate your needs.
- Maintain your relationships. Make sure that you connect with your friends, family and colleagues in meaningful ways. Making time for the people in your life shows them that you value the relationship, this can help both advance your career and personal relationships.
- Have a positive outlook. Reminding yourself every day of the positive things in your life, i.e. practising gratitude, not only improves your mental health but also reminds you daily about the good things in your life, including people.
- See a relationship coach. If building and maintaining interpersonal relationships is difficult for you then book a session with a relationship coach. Relationship coaches are able to help you build your interpersonal skills by helping individuals learn skills for relating and build confidence. Relationship coaches also teach people to develop conflict resolution skills.
The Mental Health Coach offers strategies that help individuals and couples by providing psychological and emotional resources. Our relationship coaches can help you deal with a variety of issues including physical intimacy and vulnerability that can later help with self-confidence and interpersonal relationships.
Contact The Metal Health Coach to book an appointment with one of our relationship coaches today.
https://thementalhealthcoach.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/1.png 788 940 Alex Heaney https://thementalhealthcoach.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/TMHC-Header-Logo-copy-300x138.png Alex Heaney2021-09-15 03:07:592022-11-19 04:08:36Dealing with Grief
We’ve all been dealing with loss from an early age, despite our failing memory. Believe it or not, grief starts with simple things, such as the death of a goldfish or a pet hamster. The naive euphemisms we’ve heard from our parents helped to an extent, but eventually “going to heaven” became “passing away”.
We grew into the realisation that, eventually, the moments and people we love will leave us.
Although grief is a natural reaction to loss, dealing with grief is never easy — regardless of how many times someone has grieved or how much a certain loss is expected. The feelings we derive from such losses are also natural, but painful nonetheless.
Is there a way to make the grieving period less painful? Yes, there is. The first step is to recognise that what you’re dealing with will subside, and that you must go through every stage in order to feel better, however difficult it may be.
Let’s start by unraveling those feelings.
What is Grief?
According to HelpGuide, grief can be defined as “the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away.”
The term “emotional suffering” applies better to grief than “deep sorrow” or “sadness”, as grief can manifest itself in a multitude of feelings ranging from disbelief to rage and, of course, profound sadness.
Besides, the pain of grief isn’t only emotional, but physical. The physical symptoms of grief are similar to those of stress, which include chest tightness, headaches, insomnia, stomach upset, and even an increase in inflammation and high blood pressure. Surely, due to the immense heartache grief brings, symptoms will likely be more intense than those of everyday stress.
In short, grief is the physical and emotional burden you endure when missing someone, or something.
What are the Stages Of Grief?
Back in 1969, Swiss-American psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross invented the Kübler-Ross model, which explores the 5 stages of grief. These are:
When the news of a loss first hits someone, it’s hard to come to terms with the truth. It comes like a sucker-punch, and it may feel unreal at first — so unreal that people would rather deny what happened than accept it.
At the same time, any loss feels unfair. People may feel anger for a number of reasons. It could be that they feel someone has parted too soon, or they may feel angry that their expected outcome didn’t happen. They may where they went wrong, and start blaming themselves or others for the unfortunate occurrence.
The bargaining stage often refers to a person’s faith. The feelings of sadness and anger may give way to an illusion of control, which could mean exchanging one’s ardent faith for a chance of bringing their loved one back to life. While it may sound unreasonable to those outside of the situation, this feeling works as an escape from a painful reality.
When a loss finally dawns on someone, so will a deep sorrow. This is the moment when constant crying and mournful feelings arise. During this period, it’s normal to feel that everything is colourless, and that life will never make sense again. Yet, like every stage, this too will pass.
Accepting a loss doesn’t mean overcoming it — all it means is that the grieving person has processed, recognised, and surrendered to what happened. At this point, they’re aware that they will have to go through this process, and may realise they need to reach out for help.
Note that these stages aren’t necessarily linear. Grief is an intricate and individual course, meaning that, while one person may begin by accepting someone’s death, another may begin at a different stage. It’s normal to feel angry, then accepting, and then relapse into sadness and anger all over again.
By no means should anyone think they’re abnormal if their grieving process naturally skips one of the stages, or if it happens in a completely different order.
A common question surrounding the stages of grief is: How long does it take to go through each stage?”
Again, that depends on each person and their proximity with who or what they’ve lost. The worst thing anyone can do is compare their grief to someone else’s, as the process will never be the same for two people. The best thing to do is to focus on healing.
Does Grief Only Apply to the Loss of a Loved One?
Not at all. People may grieve different life events, such as the end of a relationship (be it a friendship or a marriage) or even a painful memory. Of all things anyone can grieve, here are some examples:
- The loss of a loved one.
- The loss of a job.
- The loss of a pet.
- The loss of a previous version of oneself.
- The loss of a previous lifestyle (such as the pre-COVID lifestyle).
Grief comes in all shapes and forms, and no type of grief should be seen as more or less important than others.
How to Cope With Grief
What actions have helped you cope with a breakup in the past? Think about it for a moment.
For Joe, it was blocking their ex on social media and crying over romantic comedies. For Jane, it was looking at her ex’s pictures and remembering their good moments together.
It took Joe three months to get over his ex, while it took Jane a year to get over hers. Both still remember their relationship, the memory still stings, but they’ve both moved on and are healing a little more every day.
While you may think the former or the latter are absurd coping mechanisms, they’ve helped different people through their unique forms of grieving. And that’s okay. The previous example should illustrate the fact that grief is different for everyone.
Yes, there may be an “average timespan” for the grieving process, but anyone is better off respecting their own time. According to a WebMD survey, people are expected to feel okay long before they’re ready, which could derail the healing process.
Hard as it may be to read this, sometimes grief can last a lifetime. Yet, like all people who have gone through the same agonising experience, you will learn to live again.
What to Do if Grief Becomes Overwhelming?
No one deserves to power through grief alone. If feelings become overwhelming, the right course of action would be to get in touch with a grief counsellor, or a bereavement counsellor.
Contrary to other types of therapists, grief counsellors focus on helping patients deeply understand their grieving process, while supporting them through the pain and pressure that follow a loss.
If counselling isn’t a possibility, reaching out to close friends, particularly those who have been through something similar, can be helpful. For those who prefer keeping their matters private, online grief forums are an excellent option. There, you can share your story with a supportive community of real users, who are also grieving, and comfort one another.
On a final note, never keep feelings of grief to yourself. Talking to someone about how you’re feeling will reinforce the fact that you’re not alone, and that there are people willing to mourn with you until you can pick yourself back up.