How To Help Depression, Stress And Anxiety

Learning to manage my mental health came well into my 20’s when I suffered a breakdown resulting from trauma. It’s something I openly talk about because I am incredibly proud of how I managed and came back from it.

With the help of an inspirational therapist at the Priory, I had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which has shaped my life. I genuinely believe that people come into our lives when we need them the most. Jim, my therapist was a gift sent from the Universe. He showed me that I could take control and manage feels of depression.

Learning to manage mental health took time to process

It didn’t stop me from going through burnout in my 30’s. I had become well equipped to deal with daily life and manage the past that had haunted me. But I hadn’t taken time to learn and understand the impact that stress has on our mind and body. That was until the day I was made redundant while going through burnout. I knew I had to guide myself through the dark to find the light. Being the type of person I am, I needed to do this for myself. That’s where my Holistic Mentoring experience started to take shape as I retrained. Since then, I’ve never stopped looking at the darkest parts of myself. Flushing colour through it all to lighten my being.

I’ve never stopped rebalancing, reconnecting, and flourishing to be the best version of myself. These days, I call it ‘living for the afterlife’. I don’t want to live longer, I want to live freer. That means giving myself to those who need help in their most challenging days. To help them to rebalance with the help of my life and professional experience.

No one prepared me for the 40’s!

Now in my early 40’s I still have to navigate my way through challenging times, like us all. The difference is now that I have years of experience in self-healing techniques. I’ve coached endless amounts of beautiful souls with the intention of empowering them. To help them find a lighter, more peaceful place to live within themselves. Having experienced so much in such a short life, I understand that words can be so easy to say. I also appreciate that actions are the hardest part of any journey.  The simplicity of placing one foot in front of the other can feel like one of the hardest of actions. Especially when we don’t know the direction that we are heading.

Journeys aren’t always planned

Journeys aren’t always planned. Often just taking the first step and allowing yourself to start somewhere without judgment or fear of failing, is the most powerful step to take. Take a breath, balance yourself by grounding and connecting with the earth beneath your feet and when you and only you are ready, flourish. It won’t be easier. The path won’t be clear. It will be turbulent and try and through you off course. When those challenges enter your space, know that they are coming. Have a tool kit prepared to help you overcome whatever it is, head-on and strong.

‘Mental Health is a Universal Human Right’ – The World Mental Health Foundation

 Those who feel able to offer others a shoulder to lean on, and two ears to listen, have a place in this world to drive positive change for everyone’s mental health. A role I take so seriously and have long been part of this very mission in life. I’m so blessed that people naturally navigate to me and trust me with the deepest and most challenging of thoughts and feelings. I have and will never take that lightly. When I encountered my darkness, I didn’t have friends or family who understood to be able to withstand the trials that came with that other than one person, my grandmother. That’s not placing blame at anyone’s door. It’s not something that comes easy to many people. But maybe that was what the Universe felt I needed to build my character to be what it had in mind for me.

Where do mental health problems start?

Can you pinpoint when yours started, or has it crept up and taken hold of you quicker than you thought possible?

We don’t always know why and part of managing mental health is allowing yourself the grace to be at peace with that. We could spend endless hours asking ‘Why, why me’ which will only whip us into a storm and make us feel worse as we often can’t answer that question. There are many reasons that mental health starts to unfold. Childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect. social isolation or loneliness. Experiencing discrimination and stigma, including racism. social disadvantage, poverty, or debt. Mental health affects us at any age whether we are a child or adult and it’s very normal for everyone to feel that their mental health isn’t quite 100%. However, a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.

Let’s look at one cause, stress.

Stress is a natural and adaptive response that our bodies and minds experience when we encounter challenging or threatening situations. It is a complex physiological and psychological reaction that helps us prepare to face a perceived threat or demand. Stress can be triggered by a wide range of situations, including both real and perceived threats, as well as everyday life challenges.

The key components are:

1.            Stressors: These are the events, circumstances, or situations that trigger the stress response. Stressors can be external, such as work deadlines, financial problems, relationship conflicts, or traumatic events. They can also be internal, like worries, fears, or self-imposed pressures.

2.            The Stress Response: When the brain perceives a stressor, it activates the body’s “fight or flight” response. This involves the release of stress hormones, primarily cortisol, and adrenaline, which prepare the body to respond quickly to the perceived threat. The physical changes associated with this response include increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, faster breathing, and heightened alertness. I have found breath work and yoga to be incredibly powerful when facing this.

3.            Physiological Changes: Stress can have various physical effects on the body. These include muscle tension, shallow breathing, increased heart rate, digestive issues, and a weakened immune system. In the short term, these changes are adaptive and help us respond to the stressor. However, chronic stress can lead to long-term health problems. If we can find a way that works for us to reduce these physical effects, we are self-healing. We are already learning to overcome stressors before too much impact is made on longer-term health.

4.            Emotional and Psychological Responses: Stress often brings about emotional and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. It can also contribute to mental health disorders like depression and anxiety disorders.

5.            Coping Mechanisms: Individuals have different ways of coping with stress. Some may use adaptive coping strategies like problem-solving, seeking social support, and practicing relaxation techniques. While others may resort to maladaptive coping mechanisms like overeating, substance abuse, or withdrawal.

6.            Individual Variation: Stress is a highly individualised experience. What one person finds stressful, another may not. Additionally, people have varying levels of resilience, which is the ability to cope effectively with stressors. Factors such as genetics, upbringing, past experiences, and social support networks can influence how a person responds to stress.

It’s important to note that not all stress is harmful. In fact, some degree of stress can be motivating and help individuals perform better in challenging situations. This is often referred to as “eustress.” However, when stress becomes chronic or overwhelming, it can lead to negative physical and psychological consequences. This includes a higher risk of health problems like cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal issues, and mental health disorders. This is what we want to focus on to ensure that we are not on the path to long-term health implications.

It’s a very personal experience

Learning to manage mental health and managing stress effectively involves recognising its presence. Identifying its sources and triggers, and implementing healthy coping strategies. Techniques such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness meditation, physical activity, and support from people that you feel connected to. It’s a very personal experience, and finding support is incredibly important. Working with the right people, learning to manage mental health can be a pivotable phase of your life.

How can Meditation help?

Meditation is a powerful practice that can help manage stress by promoting relaxation, mindfulness, and mental clarity. Here’s how it works when learning to manage mental health.

1.            Stress Reduction: Meditation activates the body’s relaxation response, which counteracts the stress-induced “fight or flight” response. When you meditate, your heart rate and blood pressure often decrease, helping to calm your body’s physiological reactions to stress.

2.            Mindfulness: One of the key components of meditation is mindfulness. Mindfulness involves paying non-judgmental attention to the present moment. By focusing on your breath, bodily sensations, or a specific mantra, you learn to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings without reacting to them immediately. This heightened awareness allows you to identify stress triggers and develop better coping strategies.

3.            Stress Perception: Meditation can change how you perceive and react to stressors. Through regular practice, you can become more resilient. You will experience a reduced intensity of stress and a more composed response to challenging situations.

4.            Improved Emotional Regulation: Meditation helps regulate emotions by strengthening the prefrontal cortex. This is responsible for executive functions such as decision-making, emotional regulation, and impulse control. This can help you respond to stressors more calmly and rationally.

5.            Reduction in Negative Thinking: Stress often comes with negative thought patterns and rumination. Meditation encourages a non-judgmental attitude towards thoughts. This can decrease the frequency and intensity of negative thought loops that contribute to stress.

6.            Enhanced Relaxation: Meditation encourages deep relaxation, which can counteract the physical tension that often accompanies stress. Progressive muscle relaxation techniques, often combined with meditation, can help release muscular tension and promote relaxation.

7.            Improved Sleep: Chronic stress can disrupt sleep patterns. Meditation can help improve sleep quality by calming the mind and reducing the physical symptoms of stress.

8.            Cognitive Benefits: Meditation has been associated with enhanced cognitive function, including improved attention, concentration, and memory. These cognitive benefits can help you handle stressful situations more effectively.

9.            Greater Self-Awareness: Regular meditation fosters a deeper understanding of oneself, including recognizing stressors, triggers, and personal reactions to stress. This self-awareness is key to developing healthier coping mechanisms.

10.         Long-Term Stress Management: Meditation is a skill that, when practiced consistently, can provide long-term benefits in stress management. Over time, it can lead to changes in the brain that make you more resilient to stress.

Creating a personalised toolkit

Learning to manage mental health is a process, one that needs collaboration with other trusted people. Stress and anxiety will differ from one person to another. However, fundamentally, there are tools that we can use to help, and tweak so they are relevant. To experience stress-reducing benefits, it’s important to establish a regular meditation practice. Even just a few minutes of daily meditation can provide noticeable improvements in stress management over time. Different meditation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, or transcendental meditation, offer various approaches to stress reduction.

If you would like to develop your own mental health toolkit, then I encourage you to drop me a line. We can have a complimentary consultation to chat about how we can work together.

Be kind to yourself, however hard things get, you can do this.

If you haven’t already, please do come and check out my other blogs. I wrote a piece on the benefits of Magnesium which some studies have shown to improve anxiety and stress. This can be read here. I also have other blogs available about coexisting with mental health.

Learning to manage mental health doesn’t have to be something you do alone. If you need support but feel that you cannot talk to those within your circles, then please reach out to Samaritans Ireland or Samaritans UK.