Mind Matters – Recognise your vulnerability to stress

Feeling the pressure to get back to “normal”? Recognising our vulnerability to stress is essential.

One way of getting a sense of how you are doing might be to pay attention to your feelings and thoughts as you read this post. Under pressure we tend to have less patience, want quick answers, feel irritated and critical as opposed to calm, patient, curious and accepting. So just your reactions to something as simple as a post on psychological well being can provide vital information on how you are doing.

And that is important because? Well not managing stress and pressure has a direct impact on our health, how people experience us, our relationships, enjoyment of life and can lead to a downward spiral. So putting off dealing with stress and pressure is a flawed strategy. On one hand we can be reluctant to make changes for fear of making the situation worse so you might not change job, confront the bullying colleague, reduce your time at work, increase your time exercising, cut out the alcohol – instead you might be inclined to try and push on through. Whilst on the other hand it is also possible to rush into making big decisions that we later regret.

Often we don’t even realise we are not coping, we look around at a world where others might be more messy, be drinking more, have worse relationships, earn less money and that can lead to us reassuring ourselves that we aren’t doing so badly after all. Or on the flip side see people doing much better with great jobs, making fortunes, looking great, having apparently perfect relationships but reassure ourselves that it is natural to feel depressed.

If you have been looking for reassurance lately then that may well be a sign that there is a struggle you are not wanting to confront.

A research study published this month asked nearly 5,000 therapists for their thoughts on the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health and the consensus amongst my fellow colleagues is a rather gloomy one. (Source: BACP Mindometer report 2021).

93% of my colleagues said they have perceived an increased mental strain in the general population. Anxiety (87%), stress/feeling overwhelmed (82%) and loneliness/social isolation (72%) were the top three most commonly presented experiences. Meanwhile in terms of more specific concerns 46% of colleagues say incidences of trauma have increased, 26% have seen an increase in eating disorders and 65% an increase in relationship pressures and breakdowns.

As we come rather juddering through the pandemic, see restrictions lifting and as we rather nervously look around to see what damage may have been inflicted on our society it really is worth while taking some time to reflect on how the pandemic has impacted on you and those around you. It is natural to want to move forward and put the misery behind us but you might need to take a good look at any unhelpful or unhealthy patterns you adopted during this difficult time and also reflect on why you want, what you want, going forward.

When we go through nasty experiences there is always a very real risk that our desire to put them behind us can be more of a priority than making the most considered and skillful choices – we are vulnerable. Whilst it might feel urgent to rebuild life and get back to “normal” as quickly as possible then be careful to notice how urgent it feels and ask yourself whether you are thinking things through. We all know people who ended up sick, alcoholic, with tattered relationships, in financial difficulty because they were too quick to commit to something that turned out not as expected, beyond or at odds with their skills and qualities.

Look after you and yours by thinking about vulnerability before rushing to make any big decisions.

Nicholas Rose
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach

UKCP registrant, MBACP (accred), UKRCP
PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych

Nicholas Rose & Associates
Counselling, psychotherapy and coaching for children, adults, couples and families.

nicholas-rose.co.uk

Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose

Read the next in the series – Mind Matters – Talking about vaccine hesitancy?

Read the previous one – Mind Matters – How do you deal with disappointment?

See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here

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