Taking control in uncertain times

Taking control in uncertain times: In these uncertain, somewhat turbulent times, Glenys Jackson, Clinical Team Manager for Mental Health, for Bupa UK,  comments on our collective mental health for World Mental Health Day 2022 and suggests ways in which you we take back control.

In terms of the mental health content, I think that a focus on the huge impact of the cost-of-living crisis, Ukraine war and a global recession on the heels of a global pandemic which are having a massive impact on our daily lives, but completely out of our control. How we can take control back in our daily lives and make sense the impact of these big issues on ourselves and loved ones.

The last few years have been a lot to cope with. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the cost-of-living crisis and other worrying world events, we’ve all been trying our best to deal with circumstances we have little control over but impact us in so many ways.

When we’re faced with events that leave us uneasy about the future, we’re likely to experience changes in our wellbeing – for example, we might feel more stressed or anxious than usual. These feelings can impact how well we’re able to cope with daily life.

Coping with difficult feelings head-on may feel intimidating, leading us to push our feelings away in the interim. However, if we delay addressing negative emotions, it can have consequences for our physical and mental health.

First and foremost, if you’re struggling with your feelings, please make sure you reach out to someone you trust as soon as you can – it could be with a friend, family member, mental health charities or a health professional.

Though talking about how you’re feeling may feel scary, it’s important to remember that trying to push on with those feelings on your own can be harmful for your mental health, leading to harmful coping mechanisms, physical discomfort and, in some cases, conditions like depression.

The longer we leave it to access support, the more difficult managing and treating mental health conditions may become. Whatever you’re feeling, you’re not alone and there’s support available.

Signs you or someone you know is struggling

Uncertainty can affect our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It’s useful to know the common signs that indicate a person is struggling to cope with their feelings.

  • Withdrawal from relationships and social situations
  • Being more irritable than usual
  • Excessively worrying
  • Broken sleep
  • Increased appetite – leaning more on stodgy ‘comfort’ foods
  • Reduced appetite
  • Drinking more alcohol than usual
  • Smoking
  • Using illegal drugs

How to manage overwhelming feelings

Along with talking to someone about how you’re feeling, there are several ways you can switch up your routine in healthy ways to help manage how you’re feeling. Though these self-help techniques can help to provide relief if you’re feeling overwhelmed, they won’t necessarily treat the root cause of how you’re feeling – which is why it’s so important to talk to others.

  • Limit your time on social media and news consumption – having constant access to the world’s events can be overwhelming and trigger anxious thoughts – Research resilience to help acknowledge and accept circumstances out of your control and how well you’re able to cope with them.
  • Use regular relaxation techniques like medication, mindfulness and worry trees to calm you and make sense of how you’re feeling. – Establish a good sleep routine to give you the best chance of sleeping between seven and nine hours each night
  • Aim for a 15-minute walk each day as minimum. It can be a great way to help clear the mind.
  • Keep your caffeine consumption to a minimum, opt for decaf options.
  • Eat and drink well throughout the day – eat your five-a-day and drink plenty of water.
  • Take a look at Bupa’s Mental Health Hub for free help.

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