Updated: Dec 10, 2020
The lead up to the end of the year holiday period can be a difficult time for some, especially in the face of expectations that we should all be overtly happy and celebratory. This year has also added further complications especially regarding the financial, social and occupational stress some have experienced. As mentioned in the previous blog, this is an extremely hard year to attempt to get an accurate take on where exactly we should be or what we should have achieved when weighing up the variables 2020 has presented.
In acknowledging that at this time some may not be coping the best, I would first like to again stress the importance of getting help through a mental health professional or through the numbers listed below if this relates to yourself. Secondly, in doing this, I also just wanted to list 3 things to remember while you are working through any coping difficulties.
These are things I would address to help encourage a more accurate point of view to look from. This is not about seeing things positively or ignoring what is negative, but we have the best chance of answering a question or solving a problem when we are working with accurate information. Sometimes, we may also tend to see an issue as being unsolvable which usually amplifies our negative emotions and lowers our motivation to attempt to solve it. So by taking a more accurate view, we can allow a little more emotional room to think and work through an issue.
This Feeling Won’t Last Forever
In essence, if you are having trouble coping with some issues and you are feeling distressed, then the answer to removing the distress would be to solve the issues, yes? So this at least, lets us know the feeling can be removed. But what if you started talking to someone who could help you such as a counsellor? Well this should also reduce some of that stress as you have decided to share this load with another who can help you carry it.
If we had a scale that said the most distress we could feel is scored at 100 and the least at 0, it is best we think of not trying to go from 100 – 0 in one go. Going from 100 - 0 is usually seen as insurmountable and can prevent us from acting to change it. Instead, lightening the load bit-by-bit is an achievable and effective goal and getting help is a good first step in doing this. This feeling won’t last forever and even lightening the load by a third will also lighten the distress. Hang in there.
This Year’s Goals/Benchmarks?
Again, mentioned in previous blog entries but also a point I think is important to reiterate. We can tend to set benchmarks based on a ‘best-case scenario’ or by comparing the achievements of others we deem similar to us. The problem with the ‘best-case scenario’ route is that this does not allow movement for variables we did not, or could not possibly plan for (such as the anomalies of this year). Therefore, if any of these variables pop up, we can sometimes see this as ‘our’ failure instead of something unpredictable that has emerged as an obstacle to our expected outcomes.
Likewise, comparisons between ourselves and others can also be problematic. If we compare our achievements with others of similar age, circumstance, education, opportunities etc., we are still missing a lot of useful information…… and also assessing our outcomes based on other’s abilities and achievements. We also tend to only include the ‘successful’ people in our comparison which instantly puts us on the bottom and does not acknowledge what we have achieved.
Remember, this year has asked us all to adapt to a huge amount of environmental changes that many of us may have never experienced before, let alone ever planned for. Reflect back with this in mind and don’t be afraid to acknowledge the things you had no control over as exactly that. Be kind to yourself when looking in the mirror.
This Is Not ‘Sickness’, This Is ‘Having Trouble Coping’
There is a difference and much comes from the stigma that is attached to mental health in general. If you are having trouble coping, that is not sickness, that is needing a hand. If you have a heavy table that you need to move and you cannot do it yourself, you ask for a hand from someone as the weight and dimensions of the table are too great for you to carry alone. If you are moving to a new house and have large piano, you call a professional removalist to help you move it from one house to another.
This is no different from being unable to cope with any emotional burden you feel you have to carry. You would feel the same relief as soon as someone agrees to help you with the table, or you have successfully booked a removalist for the piano as you would receiving help for any emotional/personal weight.
It is important to know that seeking help for coping difficulties is not a sign of weakness or sickness. It is also important to acknowledge that not seeking help can eventually lead to issues getting bigger which essentially, then become much harder to manage. At this time of the year, we may be feeling a little tired and stressed so please check-in on yourself and ask for a hand if needed. Remember, you are doing the best you can under the circumstances and even our greatest achieving individuals are always part of a team.
Take care everyone.
Beyondblue (anxious/depressed) – ph. 1300 22 4636
Kids Helpline (counselling for ages 5 – 25) – ph. 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia (men, emotional/relationship concerns) – ph. 1300 78 99 78
Open Arms (veterans and families counselling) – ph. 1800 011 046
LifeLine (personal crisis) – ph. 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service (thinking about suicide) – ph. 1300 659 467
At the time of writing, all lines are open 24/7.
If you are not in crisis but feel you would like to work through some concerns, you can also make an appointment with myself at AHRLEE Counselling or with one of the many other amazing counsellors we have here in Australia.