We often find ourselves struggling to distinguish the difference between stress and anxiety.
Stress is when you feel overwhelmed but not afraid of an event, scenario, or responsibility. You may experience stress from:
1. A relationship
2. Work tasks
3. Medical ailments
5. Lack of sleep
The symptoms of stress may include, but are not limited to:
3. High blood pressure
5. Anger and Irritability
Comparatively, anxiety results from fearing a situation that may or may not occur in the future. For example, you may feel anxious or afraid about the following:
1. An upcoming exam
2. A job interview
3. A move
4. Financial struggles
5. Possible conflict with another person
The symptoms of anxiety may include, but are not limited to:
1. Difficulty concentrating
2. Issues with sleep
3. Having a sense of impending doom
4. Increased heart rate
Anxiety can be a person’s response to a stressful event. Once the event has passed, the stress will have gone away, but the person’s feelings of dread and worry will remain. It is important to note that anxiety is fear of what you perceive to be a legitimate threat when it is not one. It is living in fear of a situation that cannot harm you.
When one is feeling stressed, it is best to engage in self-care to manage the stress before it turns into prolonged feelings of anxiety. Comparatively, when one is feeling anxious, it is best to prepare yourself with coping mechanisms to deal with these anxious thoughts. These could be counseling, calming affirmations, or meditation.
Mental health conditions can be revealed through a variety of different symptoms. Some symptoms may include but are not limited to anxiety, depression, impulsive behaviors, increased anger or rage, and delusional thinking.
Some less common symptoms are usually disguised as being a mental health condition. For example, three unexpected signs that you may have a mental health condition include but are not limited to:
1. Unexpected changes in your sleep patterns:
a. When you are suffering from a mental health condition, it can affect all aspects of your life, including your ability to get a restful night’s sleep. For example, racing thoughts may keep you awake and prevent you from sleeping throughout the night. Alternatively, even if you sleep throughout the evening, you may still feel unrested and crave more sleep. Sleep fluctuations can be disguised as a more serious mental health condition.
2. Loss of interest in being social:
a. If you are feeling dissatisfied with yourself personally, you may subconsciously distance yourself from your loved ones. This can be due to possible feelings of insecurity and shamefulness. Therefore, disconnecting yourself from those around you.
3. Struggling to concentrate on routine tasks:
a. You may find that routine daily tasks become somewhat of a challenge to complete when previously, they came easy to you. For example, some activities can include bathing, doing laundry, getting dressed, or putting away your dishes. However, you may not realize that you have lost the motivation to do this or that other thoughts may consume the greater part of the day.
These are just a few unexpected symptoms one may find him or herself experiencing. Mental health conditions manifest in various ways and appear differently in each person. The world of mental health is ever-evolving, and therefore how we view these mental health conditions evolves as well.
As a mental health professional, I am seeing an increase in the rate of people dealing with depression and anxiety. While these issues have always been around, they have been occurring at a higher rate in the recent months and years.
The COVID pandemic hit and we all had to put our lives on hold. We were stuck at home, away from our jobs, friends, and family members. The loneliness and fear that followed have led to feelings of depression and anxiety in many people. We found ourselves isolated from the lives we were used to living. Everything became new, unfamiliar, and overwhelming. In addition, during this time, many of us lost friends and loved ones from COVID-19. We had to grieve alone and not be surrounded by the support of others. Now, as we attempt to adjust to the “new normal,” some may feel guilty for surviving and having the opportunity to move forward. The grief of losing people while being alone combined with the guilt of moving forward may lead to depression.
Over the last two years, we have had to adapt to these changes and how we deal with situations and emotions. We have grown to become so comfortable isolated at home that the transition of becoming more social may be challenging. As we are beginning to come out of the pandemic, many must readjust to being back in public and re-entering society. We need to learn how to socialize during these new times with new restrictions. Unfortunately, this transition may come with feelings of anxiety, depression, hesitation, and discomfort.
Some of us may feel anxious in the following situations:
1. Crowded spaces surrounded by people
2. Having to go back to working in an office after working from home for a year or more
3. Fearing catching various illnesses
4. Fearing leaving the comfort of your home
Many will find themselves unsure of the feelings that come with these experiences. As we move towards normalcy, people need to know they are not alone and that reaching out for help is a sign of strength!
Anxiety is when you feel nervous and anticipate the worst in a situation. For example, you may have anxiety over an upcoming event, a test, a relationship, or being alone. However, anxiety is not limited to just these examples. It is possible to feel anxious with just about anything!
The symptoms listed below are signs that you may have anxiety:
1. Feeling nauseous
2. Feeling nervous or tense
3. Having trouble sleeping
4. Feeling tired and weak
5. Having headaches
6. Experiencing palpitations or chest discomfort
7. Experiencing excessive sweating
8. Having a sense of panic
9. Being shaky on your feet
10. Struggling to concentrate or focus on simple tasks
11. Avoiding activities or people who make you feel anxious
12. Overthinking most situations
13. Feeling irritable
14. Variations in your appetite (extreme hunger or no appetite at all)
15. Losing your hair
16. Feeling dizzy or fainting
17. Having dry mouth
18. Having hot flashes
19. Experiencing heavy breathing
20. Having an upset stomach
It is possible for many of us to, at some point in our lives, experience moments of feeling socially awkward.
However, feeling socially awkward can at times be mistaken for Avoidant Personality Disorder or AVPD. Many factors can distinguish the two from each other. Whereas AVPD consists of personality traits and social awkwardness that stem from anxiety. So, the questions are:
Avoidant Personality Disorder is a condition where a person wants to avoid social situations out of fear of being rejected or judged. You often feel inadequate when comparing yourself to others and are highly sensitive to others’ negative judgments of you. Avoidant Personality Disorder differs from social awkwardness in various ways, as mentioned below. People with AVPD will:
Comparatively, socially awkward people might find themselves doing the following:
The main difference between being socially awkward and having AVPD is that socially awkward people are aware they feel this way and understand their feelings. On the other hand, people with AVPD have deep feelings of low self-worth and the intense fear of rejection and isolation. Therefore, those diagnosed with AVPD will avoid these situations where socially awkward people will still engage but feel uncomfortable while doing it.
AVPD is a treatable condition by way of psychotherapy. By using different modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the psychotherapist can help someone become more aware of faulty thought patterns or negative cognitions and help them to modify their ways of thinking.
Your mood affects both your mental and physical health. When your mood is down it may affect you in a variety of different ways but not limited to lacking motivation, disengaging from work responsibilities, and withdrawing from personal relationships. Therefore, finding ways to boost your mood are crucial in helping you carry out your daily routine.
Here are ten activities that can help boost your mood and improve your overall mental and physical well-being:
1. Take a walk outside and sit on the grass. Feel the grass between your toes as you watch the clouds pass by.
2. Soak in a warm bath with scented candles and listen to calming music.
3. Engage in proper sleep hygiene. Make sure you get yourself on a positive routine to get the right amount of uninterrupted sleep each night.
4. Cuddle up in a soft blanket or hug a soft stuffed animal.
5. Write down five things that you are grateful for at that very moment.
6. Watch a funny movie or television show. Laughter is important as it increases endorphins, the chemical that boosts your mood.
7. Tidy up your space. Viewing clutter can cause a spike in cortisol, the stress hormone. Therefore, as you clean the area around you, you may feel a decrease in stress, boosting your overall mood.
8. Enjoy a piece of chocolate, which can boost dopamine and serotonin— the feel-good chemicals that are naturally released in your brain.
9. Smelling lavender can help boost your mood as it interacts with GABA, the neurotransmitter that can help relax the brain and nervous system.
10. Consume Vitamin C, which can help to create neurotransmitters that regulate your mood. Some foods high in Vitamin C include but are not limited to citrus fruits, tomatoes, and broccoli.
Self-esteem is known as how one views their value or self-worth. One of the most beneficial ways to take care of yourself is through self-esteem building. Your self-esteem affects your overall happiness and other important areas in your life, such as but not limited to your relationships with others, your ability to make decisions, and achieve personal goals. Additionally, how you view yourself can also impact how others may view you.
Increasing your self-esteem also helps increase self-confidence, allowing you to better manage challenges. In addition, learning how to improve your self-esteem increases your overall mental health and well-being.
Here are 10 valuable activities to engage in for self-esteem building:
1. Do your best to look at the positives in a situation, even when it may be challenging to do so.
2. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself—use positive affirmations and positive self-talk language.
3. Get in tune with your body and physical needs, such as exercise and eating healthy.
4. Surround yourself with healthy romantic and personal relationships.
5. Say “no” to anything that could negatively affect your mental health.
6. Identify the negative beliefs about yourself and challenge them by reminding yourself of the positive.
7. Start a gratitude journal and write down one thing you are grateful for every day.
8. Write down your goals and aspirations, both short and long-term.
9. Set up a vision board filled with positive images that make you feel good.
10. Write down one compliment every day and display it in a place where you can easily view it.
1. The pandemic is affecting the mental health of both teen and preteen age groups in a variety of different ways. Teens may deal with the usual stressors of young adulthood, such as bullying, schoolwork, puberty, body changes, and the emergence of new relationships. In the times of the pandemic, teens now are dealing with the fear of being sick, a change in their schooling, relatives and friends becoming ill, and potentially losing them to the health crisis. In a time when bodies and minds are changing, these new stressors have teens finding themselves fighting anxiety, depression, and questioning the future.
2. The best way to talk to your teen about mental health is to normalize it. Talking about mental health in the home environment gives them a safe space to open up about their thoughts and feelings. By sharing your own feelings, this shows them that it is okay to talk about it and that they can feel heard.
3. Some warning signs that something is wrong includes, but is not limited to:
-noticing a mood shift, such as more irritated, angry, quieter, withdrawn, agitated, lack of energy and/or lack of interest.
-noticing changes in sleep patterns and/or eating patterns.
-complaining about physical discomfort such as headaches or stomach issues.
4. If your child has suicidal ideation, make an appointment to see a psychiatrist or therapist. If you are afraid that your child will attempt to commit suicide, bring your child to the nearest hospital, or call 911. Never be afraid to reach out for help.
People often engage in a variety of habits before bed that can not only keep them awake for part of the night, but also lead to restless, broken sleep. Some of these habits are as follows:
More specifically, exercise and diet can have a significant impact on your ability to have a restful sleep. If you consume a heavy meal, an excessive amount of caffeine, or alcohol in the late afternoon or early evening, your body will be unable to come to a relaxed state when you are ready to fall asleep. Your stomach will feel full, your mind will be wired and racing, and your body will not be able to find a sense of calmness. The same is to be said for exercise. Exercising stimulates both the mind and body and can give you a boost of energy. If you would like to do exercise at the end of the day, you should try to do this at least 2-3 hours before you anticipate going to bed.
Being on your screens, whether it be through your phone, computer, or television can be stimulating before you want to go to sleep. If you are immersed in a story on television or engaged in a conversation with friends, your mind is going to be alert and wanting to know what is going to happen next. In addition, the light that comes from these screens can delay the release or reduce the amount of melatonin in the body. This can then lead to the inability to fall asleep. Therefore, it is important to shut all screens off approximately 1 to 2 hours before you wish to fall asleep. The same can be said for working from your laptop in bed. Even if you are doing this during the day, your body is going to begin to associate being awake and alert while in your bed. Our bodies pick up on routines easily and therefore, if you work in the same place you want to sleep, your body is going to become accustomed to being awake when you are in this location.
My tips for getting a more restful sleep are as follows:
1. Reading an hour before bed can allow the mind to relax and decompress from daily stressors.
2. Do not have caffeine after 3pm since caffeine is a stimulant which can keep you awake or interrupt your sleep.
3. Reduce your screen time to at least 1.5 hours before you go to bed because staring at the screen can keep your mind racing and your eyes stimulated.
4. Wash your face, brush your teeth, and get comfortable in a good position in bed a half hour before you go to sleep.
5. Develop a consistent routine so your body knows what to expect each night.
6. Avoid large meals and alcohol later in the day. If your stomach is full, you will not be able to rest comfortably.
7. Exercise regularly but be sure to not do this at least 2-3 hours before you are ready to go to sleep.
8. Try to wake at the same time every day, even if you have off from work.