5 Facts About PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop when one has experienced a traumatic event. Here are 5 facts about PTSD:

  1. PTSD can develop not only after having experiencing trauma, but also from having witnessed it.
  2. Symptoms of PTSD include reliving the event through flashbacks and nightmares, avoiding possible triggers, excessive arousal which includes a hypervigilance to danger, and an increase in negative thoughts and feelings.
  3. We can have post-traumatic symptoms and it not develop into a disorder. This will often be affected by one’s support system, the severity of the trauma, and how the symptoms were treated soon after experiencing or witnessing the trauma. Cumulative trauma can also lead to PTSD.
  4. Although some may experience irritability, increased anger (including outbursts), others will experience flat affect – their ability to feel is dampened by their traumatic experience and its after effects.
  5. Although we don’t often hear about post-traumatic growth when reading about PTSD, it is an important element to consider in our journey to heal.

Knowing about PTSD and how it can affect both ourselves and our loved ones can be an important step to understanding how trauma affects us in the short term (acute stress response) and the long term (symptoms and possible disorder.)

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5 Facts About Indifference

Indifference is defined as lack of interest, concern or sympathy. It can be what feels like a global trait, or it can be quite specific to a person or situation. Here are 5 facts about indifference:

  1. Indifference can develop as a way to protect ourselves. If we grew up in a home in which we were emotionally neglected, we can often appear ‘cold’ to those around us; we can even surprise ourselves at times with lack of what would be considered appropriate feelings.
  2. Overexposure can lead to indifference. This is most often recognized as a feeling of helplessness to the problems of our world. We get inundated with so many images in social media, that we become overexposed to tragedy and this can lead to a feeling of indifference – especially towards being able to fix it.
  3. Indifference is a silent relationship killer. When we stop caring about the little things, the contributions we make to keeping a relationship healthy, to forethought – we run the risk of allowing indifference to change the way our loved one feels about us.
  4. Indifference can be a byproduct of depression or addiction. When we are depressed, we tend to not care. This will send out a ripple effect towards those around us. When addiction is present, its fight for primacy will create a lack of concern for how those around you are being affected.
  5. Indifference can be the price of selfishness. The value that Western society has placed on achievement and success can often lead to greed; we begin to not care about what feeds our soul and instead focus on material happiness. This can lead to feelings of indifference as our focus is misaligned.

The first step in conquering indifference is to recognize the role it might be playing in your life. Tomorrow’s post will explore how we can begin to push back when indifference is present and taking up too much space.

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5 Facts about Curiosity

You know I am going to like this post as I often speak about the importance of curiosity:

  1. Curiosity tempers fear. Most of our fears are perceived – curiosity can help to work away at our worries. Asking ourselves “Does it have to be this way?” is a great start to moving past an engrained fear. So is asking ourselves “Is there another way I can approach this?” Sometimes just giving ourselves permission to imagine a different outcome can begin to work away at our fear – curiosity is our number one tool for this type of approach.
  2. Curiosity helps increase our self-esteem. When we are curious about something, it almost always lends itself to learning something new, and we all know how empowering knowledge can be.
  3. Curiosity can enhance creativity. Working along the same lines as increased knowledge, when we are curious, we tend to be more creative. Creativity feeds our comfort system.
  4. Curiosity promotes an active mind. When our mind is active, it also tends to be more open, flexible and self-reflective – which are all important components to our emotional health.
  5. Curiosity helps to connect cause and effect. When we understand where and why our issues developed, we move to acceptance and structural change.

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5 Facts About Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue is a condition that can develop over time in which a person experiences emotional, spiritual and/or physical exhaustion; developing cumulatively in those who care for others. Here are 5 facts about compassion fatigue:

  1. It is often described as “the negative cost of caring,” and it is characterized by a reduced ability to feel empathy for those they are caring for. Therein lies the dichotomy, as those in caregiving roles tend to be very empathic.
  2. People in helping professions are susceptible to developing compassion fatigue. This includes those in the medical profession, first responders and therapists. It can also occur when someone is the prime caregiver of a loved one.
  3. Compassion fatigue can occur as a re-experiencing of patient trauma. It is vicarious; the helper experiences a disruption in their system of meaning, and they can begin to feel weighted by the stories they have heard or images they have seen.
  4. Increasing irritability is often the first stage of compassion fatigue, followed by symptoms of withdrawal.
  5. Valuing self-care and setting boundaries (especially in an unsupportive work environment) are two of the most effective coping strategies in preventing compassion fatigue.

For those in helping professions, a great deal of satisfaction comes from helping others. When we are aware of compassion fatigue, we can create preventative measures to decrease the likelihood of it occurring. It requires finding a balance between caring for others while also caring for ourselves.

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5 Facts About Anger

Anger – we all have experience with this feeling in one form or another. Although it is one of our basic emotions, it is often the one we have the most difficulty with. Here are 5 interesting facts about anger:

  1. Anger is meant to protect us. As part of our survival brain, anger triggers our ‘fight-or-flight’ response. This allows us to defend ourselves, as anger allows us to have an immediate response to threats of danger.
  2. Anger is a secondary emotion. We can’t feel anger without feeling something else first – that might be frustration, but it can also be fear, guilt, sadness, hurt, betrayal. We tend to skip over the more vulnerable emotion, straight to anger.
  3. Anger is only in our control when we can slow it down. The moment you move to aggression (yelling, stomping off, hitting something), you no longer have control of it. It may be ‘protecting’ you, but it is no longer serving you.
  4. Bitterness, resentment and hostility are all forms of repressed anger. When anger goes unresolved, it becomes a stone in our heart.
  5. Anger is useful. Whenever we feel angry about something, we can also be curious. “Why am I feeling angry about this? What am I also feeling? How do I want to address it? What do I need to do to resolve this feeling?” As soon as we begin to ask ourselves these questions, we begin to process not only the feeling of anger, but the feelings that are also beneath it.

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5 Facts About Energy (and how it relates to mental health)

It is surprising how much energy can play a role in our mental health. Here are 5 interesting facts about it:

  1. A body in motion stays in motion. Newton’s Law of Physics applies to us as well; when we have a plan for our day and begin to work through our list, we generate and sustain energy. This allows us to feel accomplished and productive.
  2. According to the law of conservation, energy can not be created or destroyed – it can only be transformed. This helps us to see the importance of putting out into the universe what we wish to receive. This can include positive affirmations, thoughtful intentions for ourselves and our loved ones, moments of peaceful reflection.
  3. Everything around us is energy. All the more reason to get outside and soak up the peaceful energy of the trees, the sun, the rain, the silent drifting of the clouds, the calm stillness of the water, the gentle breeze of the wind.
  4. Our physical energy directly affects our mental energy. 3 ways that we sustain physical energy is through proper nutrition, enough exercise to keep ourselves healthy, a good night’s rest.
  5. Energy is renewable. This applies to our energy system as well; we renew our energy throughout the day by giving ourselves permission to rest and consciously feeding our comfort system.

We can use these facts about energy to purposefully design our day to include the use of our energy field to best support our emotional health. Sounds like a good plan to me 🙂

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5 Facts About Connection

We have all heard that connection is an essential component to our well-being. Here are five facts about connection that can help to understand and solidify its importance:

  • Human connection leads to a longer life span. When we are socially connected, we tend to be less lonely and isolated. This can add years to our life.
  • Connection leads to greater fulfillment. When we feel joy and meaning in our experiences, it increases the feel good hormone of dopamine.
  • Lower levels of anxiety and depression. People who tend to have meaningful relationships in their life report having greater capacity to face challenges in their life.
  • Higher self-esteem. We are a relationship species, so it stands to reason that when we have loving connections in our lives, we also feel better about ourselves.
  • It strengthens our immune system. Connection allows us greater capacity to deal with stress, allowing our immune system to better fight off illness and disease

Now that the pandemic is allowing us to socialize more, we can recognize the importance of connection and create opportunities to spend time with others. This can only do us good. 🙂

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5 Facts About Boredom

Sometimes it is nice to simply learn five fun facts about something. Today’s topic? Boredom:

  1. Boredom is described as the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest. Feeling bored is a common feeling and at times, is unavoidable.
  2. Boredom is the psychological feeling of missing something. We often mistake feeling bored for feeling empty; this can lead us to looking for something to ‘fill ourselves.’
  3. Boredom is also linked to control. If we feel we don’t have control over something (waiting rooms are a good example), we can end up feeling restless, bored, frustrated.
  4. Boredom can be related to depression. If we purposefully avoid restorative activities or we blame ourselves for feeling bored, we may need to get clarity as to what is really going on.
  5. We can work with boredom. Understanding ourselves and why we may feel bored is the first step. Curiosity and creativity both help to temper it. Being prepared for the times you have to wait will also help pass the time; there is nothing like a great playlist or capitvating book to keep your attention.

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5 Facts About Our Emotions

When it comes to our emotions, there are five things we can keep in mind:

  1. Emotions help us to understand what is important to us. What brings me joy or sadness is going to be different than what brings you the same feelings. Although emotions are fairly universal, the nuance of emotion helps us to form our own personal value system.
  2. Emotions protect us. Every emotion comes with a message which can help us in deciphering which direction to go. When we tune into our feelings, they can help to protect us from what might threaten our value system.
  3. Emotions are meant to just be. It is never our feelings that get us into trouble but rather the action urges that accompany them. If we can slow ourselves down to process how we are feeling, we stand a greater chance of moving to a response versus being led by a reaction.
  4. Emotions connect us to others. We are a relationship species and emotions play a crucial role in our attachment system.
  5. The personal meaning of emotions can change. We grow up learning about emotions in our childhood home. What I learn about anger or fear is going to be different that what you learned. The good news is that through gaining a greater understanding of our emotions, we can let go of the associations or judgements assigned to emotions – allowing for our feelings to work with us and not against us.

Keeping these five facts about emotions in mind can help us to better understand the value that they provide to us. As a result, we can begin to honour our feelings; processing them as we journey through the experiences of our lives.

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5 Facts About Nature (and our mental health)

Canadian summers give us the perfect excuse to get outside. Here are 5 facts about nature and our mental health:

  • When we walk in nature, rumination decreases. We all fall into the trap of the worry cycle – something gets stuck in our thought process and will lead to us ruminating about it. When we go for a walk outside, nature tends to take care of that for us; perhaps through a greater sense of overall calmness.
  • Nature helps to manage stress. Exercise, movement, awe, a sense of wonder – all of it helps to reduce the frayed, frazzled feeling and replaces it with a sense of being grounded.
  • Being outdoors decreases cortisol and increases dopamine. Brain activity associated with being out in nature indicates that the calming effect of green space can affect our brain chemicals – leading to an overall feeling of increased happiness. Sunlight exposure increases serotonin which helps to ward off the symptoms of depression.
  • Nature has restorative properties. We tend to be more focused in nature, more creative and feel more resilient.
  • We sleep better. Being outside at low light (morning and evening) can help to reset our circadian rhythm, leading to more time in slow wave sleep (our most restorative stage of sleep.)

Getting outside daily in nature or an urban green space is a cost effective and simple way to support our emotional health. Setting it as a daily non-negotiable is a sure fire way of leading with balance and conscious choice to support mental health.

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