Stressful events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of job or home, or serious/chronic illness can actually affect the grey matter in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This region of the brain is responsible for self-control, emotions and physiological functions such as proper glucose and insulin levels. Stressors can affect our mood centers and skew our ability to regulate pleasure and reward. Prolonged exposure to stress can actually shrink the brain. Brain volumes in the mood centers are linked to depression and anxiety. People who have brain shrinkage seem to be more vulnerable when faced with a life trauma or sudden adverse event as the effects are magnified and their ability to cope is compromised.
Brain-enhancing activities to combat stress and make our brains more resilient to stress are recommended to diffuse some of the potentially harmful effects stress can have on the brain. Some valuable stress relievers include exercise, meditation, taking a daily dose of DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid-an Omega 3 fatty acid) and maintaining strong emotional relationships.
Changes occur all day long. An appointment gets cancelled, you encounter a detour on the way home, you were anticipating roast beef for dinner and you got chicken. It’s what life is and while you might get a bit frustrated, you learn to roll with it. But what about the big changes? Job transfers, marriage, divorce, children, medical changes and the death of someone you love. How do you learn to adapt with the changes that will affect the rest of your life?
Whether you’re leaving the community that you’ve built strong relations with or having to bury a loved one, you will feel anger because it wasn’t your choice for this to happen to you. Healthy coping skills result in better emotional stability. Poor coping skills result in anger and resentment.
First, it is helpful to recognize that you are in the midst of change and that change is part of you. Instead of thinking about all the negative issues, try making a list of all the positive benefits of this change. Visualize all the possibilities and write them down. Make up a “to do” list if there are things you need to accomplish before the change happens. Call a friend and discuss your fears and ask for their advice. If you feel that you can’t get past your fear, anger and resentment you may need to talk to a professional. In talking with a therapist you will get an unbiased opinion and they will be able to give you some insight and the coping tools so that you can move on and embrace your changes.
“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” ~ Jim Rohn
Home should be a place of peace and refuge in a busy, sometimes hectic, world. If you are looking for harmony at home and not finding it, here are a couple of things to think about:
- Sometimes stress comes to you. Sometimes it comes from you. Can you locate the source of stress in your home?
- How are the kids doing? Are they happy, healthy, enjoying their experiences at school and at home?
- What is the status of the marriage? How is communication? Taking time for the important things?
- Who sets the emotional tone at home? Mom, dad, the kids?
- Finances and laundry are two prominent sources of stress in a relationship. How are the finances and who is doing the laundry?
Despite advances in mental health, the term “Nervous Breakdown” is still a term commonly used in our culture. In the past, the term was used frequently and covered a variety of mental disorders. While the term is a metaphor and is not a clinical or medical term, or indicates a specific mental illness, the description of symptoms can indicate an underlying mental disorder such as depression or anxiety. A nervous breakdown could occur after a prolonged period of feeling emotionally or physically overwhelmed, or exhausted with the demands of life or an external stressor, and to the point a person is unable to function in day-to-day life or feeling as if they are not able to cope with life at all. In the past, treatment for nervous breakdowns usually involved hospitalization, heavy medication, and even lobotomy. Thinking of a person as weak or unable to “fix” their own problems perpetuates the negative stigma of mental illness. Life today can be complex and stressful. Many people do not know effective coping strategies and are still hesitant to seek professional help. If you think you may be having a nervous “breakdown” or had one in the past, consult with us at Pinnacle Counseling.
If you ware unhappy with the way things are right now do something different. Change. Don’t make the mistake of expecting different results from the same actions. Don’t make the mistake of believing that you can force someone else to change. Start with yourself.
Think very carefully about how you are going to change. Generally, good things come from changes that result in greater openness, more honesty, and less judgement. These types of changes are real. They are life changing changes. But where to start?
You can start by asking yourself honest questions. Follow up with clear statements of your intent.
- How do I become more open with my spouse? I want to become more open with my spouse.
- How do I become more honest with my spouse? I want to become more honest with my spouse.
- How do I do both of these things without judging my spouse? I want to become more open and honest without judgement.
Let these questions and statements live in your heart for a period of time. They will lead you in the right direction.
Pinnacle Counseling is proudly going green in support of National Mental Illness Awareness Week from Monday, October 7th – Friday, October 11th. Although there are many things you can do to show your support for National Mental Illness Awareness Week, the number one thing every single person can do is to help spread awareness to stop the stigma of mental illness. Starting the conversation is the first step to reaching out and supporting your loved ones as they seek help in a struggle with any sort of mental illness or mental health issue can be remarkably beneficial. At Pinnacle Counseling, we are ready to help you on your journey to becoming more mentally healthy. Check back throughout the week for more posts to help spread the word about the importance of mental health awareness.