How is this possible? Your college graduation day feels like yesterday and you can still remember the priceless feeling of accomplishment. You knew exactly what you wanted and you were on the fast track to getting everything you’ve always hoped to have in life.
Lately, however, you’ve been questioning some of the core values that have defined your life up to now. Am I really a business person? Am I better suited to be an entrepreneur? Do I want to settle down with someone and have children? How will it all fit into my schedule?
If you are in your 20’s or 30’s and you feel uncertain about your career, worry about life or if you don’t exactly feel like an adult yet; you may be going through a quarter-life crisis.
The interpersonal and professional problems that people in their 20’s and early 30’s are experiencing in our modern world are no laughing matter. Moreover, many individuals in their 20’s think of life as a competition. Research suggests that the main challenges that 20-somethings and people in their 30’s face are a result of internal conflict, identity confusion, and uncertainty.
It is human nature to have trouble figuring out what your next move will be at various points in your life. There are no easy solutions to help you figure out what your perfect life path will be. Nevertheless, there are small steps you can employ to assist you throughout your quarter life crisis.
If you think about it, this period of uncertainty could perhaps be an opportunity for you to grow as a person.
In 1968, Erik H. Erikson published papers suggesting that human beings experience up to eight different developmental stages in their lives. The research of this developmental psychologist is the foundation of what is now known as the “quarter-life crisis”.
A quarter life crisis is basically an intense period of soul searching along with stress that occurs in your 20’s or 30’s. It can stem from the time-period directly after adolescence when many young individuals start to doubt their lives and begin to realize the extent of the stresses connected to adult life.
This happens more often than you might think. A recent LinkedIn study concluded that around 75% of people between the ages of 22 and 33 have dealt with a quarter-life crisis.
The typical candidate is smart and highly driven and they feel like they have not achieved their full potential or that they are falling behind. Others may either be unemployed or under-employed despite having a “magna cum laude” degree. Some people could be unhappy at a job that they used to dream of having.
Perhaps you planned on becoming a mom someday and now you can’t imagine handling a toddler’s timetable along with a work routine involving little sleep and caffeinated drinks.
If you are overwhelmed with constantly questioning your career, relationships or your purpose in life, don’t be alarmed. It is actually fairly normal. Young people are faced with many types of pressures these days which can lead to a quarter-life crisis.
Navigating the ever-evolving complexities of the professional landscape and following a career that you are passionate about can be very challenging. Many young adults feel like they can’t find the right career path despite the fact that they were brought up to be ambitious. It is not unusual to change jobs as a result of a quarter-life crisis.
The pressure to get onto the property ladder can be immense for people in their 20’s and 30’s. People also tend to find it difficult to deal with the realization that they may still have a long way to go before they can buy property.
Young adults may be obsessed with finding “the one”. The pressure of finding a partner and maintaining relationships can be overpowering. Most people seek to find romantic relationships in fear of spending their lives in isolation.
There is no quick-fix solution, but these four ways could help you to figure out what you can do to escape the spiraling tornado of your quarter-life crisis.
Going through the twists and turns of a quarter-life crisis is very difficult and you will only make it worse by being too hard on yourself. The best thing you can do is to remind yourself that this life stage can have positive aspects that can enable you to make the necessary changes to progress in life. Keep an open mind. The crisis will not last forever and you may be happier in the long run.
By sharing your future plans with others, you are more likely to get support from people who can assist you in achieving your breakthrough. Talking to people about the issues that you are burdened with can help you rationalize the problem so that you can solve it with greater ease.
Talking to friends and family members is a great place to start. It is also a good idea to get an unbiased opinion, especially from people with experience in your industry. You can also discuss your thoughts with a network of people through social media.
Comparing yourself to other people can distract you from what you want to do with your own life. Remember, you are not at the exact same stage in life as your friends. Whatever your definition is of success or whatever makes you happy should be enough to guide your decisions.
If you are in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, it can be useful to channel your unhappiness and frustrations into something else. Consider taking up a side hustle to find some happiness in a career. Furthermore, you could try experimenting with creative activities like drawing or photography.
Many people in their 20’s or 30’s find themselves caught up in a quarter-life crisis shortly after letting go of the fantastic feeling of graduating.
If you are having a quarter life crisis, don’t despair. Think of it as your chance to step back and re-evaluate your life. You have an opportunity to research your options and find your true passions. Whether you want to start a new career or travel, you need to be aware of what your possibilities are.
Find the courage to admit what you want in life. If you don’t have the guts to say what you want to become in life, no-one will hire you to be it!
Are you dating someone with anxiety? From disrupted sleep patterns to a loss of appetite, there is a range of symptoms that are associated with this mental health condition. Anxiety affects millions of people every year, which means that it’s important to know how to support someone who is coping with persistent worry.
Anxiety is triggered by a perceived threat, which results in physical and psychological symptoms. Anxiety is necessary as it helps us to avoid danger. However, when you experience persistent worry in the absence of life-or-death situations, you may be suffering from anxiety. These feelings of apprehension can have negative consequence for your personal and professional relationships.
Knowing what the symptoms of anxiety are, make it easier to understand what your partner is going through. Anxiety affects a person’s sense of safety, which triggers a fight or flight response. This physical response to persistent worry includes sweaty palms as well as shallow breathing. People who are suffering from anxiety may also experience an upset stomach. Other symptoms of anxiety include irritability, insomnia, headaches, and muscle tension.
Not only does this mental health condition have a physical effect, but it also impacts their emotional wellbeing. While it’s not the case for everyone, anxiety is often accompanied by depression. People with anxiety frequently find themselves fixating on the worst case scenario where they imagine a negative outcome to the situations that they face in their daily lives. It’s important to remember that anxiety is not a personal failing but a medical condition that should be treated by a professional.
If you’re dating someone with anxiety, your relationship may face unique challenges. Here’s a list of ways that you can offer your partner the support that they need to overcome the difficulties that are associated with anxiety.
The first step to offering your partner the support that they need is to research anxiety and the effects of this mental health condition. Unfortunately many mental conditions, such as anxiety, are misunderstood. It’s important to get your facts right so that you can gain a better understanding of what your partner is going through. While researching anxiety is beneficial, every person’s journey with anxiety is unique. You’ll need to communicate with your partner, so that you can learn more about their individual experience. Asking them caring questions about their daily challenges with anxiety goes a long way towards making them feel accepted.
Romantic relationships can intensify feelings of anxiety. Persistent worry may cause people to withdraw which can ignite emotions of abandonment and insecurity in their partners. Open communication can help you to check whether your partner needs some space when they feel worried. It’s also an opportunity to ask them how you can offer them support in the most effective manner.
With the rapid advancement of technology, many people opt for instant messaging, rather than talking to each other. It’s important to take the time to talk to your partner whether it’s to resolve conflict or to offer them support. Another downside of digital communication is that the tone of messages can be misunderstood, which can lead to unnecessary misunderstandings.
Anxiety can trigger emotions that are difficult to deal with. Instead of trying to rationalize with your partner when they’re struggling with their emotions, make them feel understood by validating their feelings. Try to stay calm yourself so that you can give them the support that they need.
Listening helps your partner feel loved and accepted in any relationship and this is particularly true for people who are struggling with anxiety. Anxiety can leave people feeling ashamed and isolated, which contributes to the cycle of persistent worry that they are facing. When you’re listening to your partner try to ask caring questions which show them that you want to understand their experiences. Avoid giving them advice unless they ask you for it. Unsolicited advice can make people feel disempowered and it can also shut down the conversation.
While dating someone with anxiety requires patience and acceptance, it’s essential to take care of yourself too. Listening to your partner is helpful but it’s important to remember that you’re not your partner’s therapist. Encourage them to seek help from a professional while you focus on creating a supportive home environment. You may feel frustrated or angry at times but it helps to realize that your feelings are directed at anxiety rather than at your partner themselves. This change in perspective makes it easier for you to join with your partner in reclaiming your relationship from the effects of anxiety.
While you want to be supportive, setting boundaries is necessary if anxiety triggers insulting or critical behavior in your partner. Addressing unjustified criticism helps your partner to be aware of this negative behavior so that they can switch to a more positive outlook on life. Practice self-care and remember to ensure that your needs are also being met in your relationship. It’s important to set up a supportive network for yourself, which can include friends, family members, and your own therapist.
While there is no quick fix for recovering from anxiety, feeling supported in a relationship can go a long way towards alleviating feelings of persistent worry. While dating someone with anxiety can be challenging, offering your partner support during difficult times can strengthen your bond and create a healthy foundation for your relationship.
Resolving the crisis in men’s mental health is an incredibly difficult task. One key component of this effort, though, is encouraging men to open up. In fact, this is something that mental health charities are really starting to focus on.
Being stoic, having a stiff upper lip, not crying, hiding vulnerability, toughening up. These are all expectations placed on men. These expectations can be reinforced in all sorts of ways: fathers influencing sons, male peers influencing each other, partners expecting a ‘certain type of man’, and movies and TV shows portraying the ideal man as macho, aggressive, dominant, and being in control.
Combating these ingrained cultural attitudes is an uphill struggle. However, we don’t have to force or pressure men to open up about everything at all times in order to fix this problem. Being honest about your inner, emotional world is hard for anyone. It takes a certain amount of courage. That’s why preparing to open up can be so stressful. Yet, when we do get something off our chest, the catharsis is incredibly therapeutic.
Since men find it particularly difficult to open up (so much so, that they will jeopardize their mental health), it’s important to make it easier for men to express themselves. Fortunately, there are many effective methods and strategies for achieving this aim.
Many mental health charities are raising awareness about masculine stereotypes and the major problems that result from them. The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – a charity that aims to tackle the male suicide epidemic – highlights that bottling up emotions is causing serious harm to men’s mental health. So they launched a #DontBottleItUp campaign, backed by men’s clothing brand Topman and Chris Hughes, star of British reality show Love Island.
Huffington Post UK similarly promoted more openness with the hashtag #BoysDoCry. The media outlet released a video released as part of the campaign, featuring an array of male celebrities, athletes, comedians, musicians, politicians, and actors who opened up about the last time they cried.
Boys often grow up with the idea that crying is something girls do, whether they hurt themselves or get upset about something. Crying for a boy, however, is seen as ‘girly’, weak, and wimpy. This attitude then spills over into adulthood, where the natural inclination to cry is restricted. Over time, this can make emotional pain quite hard to manage, since crying is a form of release. It helps to soothe our pain.
Another campaign in the UK, #ItsOkayToTalk, was started by Luke Ambler, a rugby player who lost his brother-in-law to suicide. Various high-profile people, like comedian Ricky Gervais, joined the campaign, encouraging men to overcome their resistance about expressing their emotions.
It is important, though, to question the effectiveness of these hashtag campaigns. In the UK, suicide is still the leading cause of death for men under 50 – although, the male suicide rate has been decreasing. This may be due, in part, by increasing awareness about men’s mental health, influenced – no doubt – by charity campaigns. But is sharing hashtags and heartfelt social media posts the best way to drive change? How many more men actually open up as a result of seeing a hashtag? Jack Urwin, author of Man Up: Surviving Modern Masculinity, says:
“My only real fear about something like this is we sit back and become complacent after doing our bit for the hashtag rather than actively reaching out to those most in need.”
Nonetheless, Urwin adds that “anything that gets any man talking is good.” One man may reach out for help and support after becoming aware of a campaign. Which, in a sense, means it has been a success. We should, however, ensure that these campaigns reach those who need the help most, that men supporting the campaign take the lead and open up, and that these messages lead to more real, face-to-face conversations. It’s also important to remember that social media can worsen mental health. So we should be wary about relying on social media to promote positive mental health.
Many influencers join mental health campaigns that encourage more openness among men. Ricky Gervais has already been mentioned. Other notable male influencers raising awareness about mental health include Prince William and Harry (who both started a campaign called Heads Together), actors Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, and Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps.
When highly influential men talk honestly about their mental health struggles, it can inspire other men to do the same. If you’re a man and you see someone you admire and look up to talking about difficult times, you may come to see that you can still be respectable and loved by others while having poor mental health. It is especially crucial for influencers who we think of as successful, macho, and strong to be open, as they are the ones who are dismantling stereotypes about what a man should be like. There’s nothing unmanly about having both a rugged and a vulnerable side.
In the UK, famous rappers like Stormzy and Professor Green have opened up about their mental health. This has been seen as a game changer in many ways since grime and rap culture is all about men appearing ‘hard’, strong, and hyper-masculine. Admitting that you have depression or anxiety would be unthinkable; an embarrassing sign of weakness. Moreover, black men are especially resistant about seeking mental health treatment. This is why Stormzy’s breaking the mold is so important. It could, after all, help other men like him – or his fans – to tell their story as well.
We have been able to learn more about men’s mental health thanks to increased coverage about it in the media. Mainstream media outlets are paying more attention to key issues, such as the male suicide epidemic. Reading about real men’s mental health stories in the media can also help other men to know that they’re not alone and that it can affect men of all ages, for all sorts of reasons.
Like with various charity campaigns, we may question whether news stories and opinion pieces lead to more talking, and how much. Would reading about a stranger’s mental health story really make a man feel more comfortable opening up to a male friend? It’s hard to tell.
Regardless, the more we understand about the men’s mental health crisis, the more likely we are to challenge it. With the mainstream media focusing on campaigns and stories that emphasize openness, we may start to see a shifting culture. Indeed, we are seeing more ordinary men open up about their mental health in the media (including social media) than ever before. This level of openness was simply not present a generation ago.
It is much harder to open up about your mental health in person than it is online. Yet, the extra difficulty involved often translates to a greater result. When you actually speak to another person about your pain, and that pain is understood, the relief can be quite powerful. This is why male support groups can be so beneficial. Mental health support groups are a space in which you can speak honestly about what you’re going through, no matter how glum, overdramatic, or dark you may think your thoughts and emotions are. Everyone is there for the same reason – to open up in a safe, non-judgemental space.
Every man in that room has his own personal struggle or suffering to contend with. However, when you listen to the stories of other men with mental health issues, you may begin to resonate with what they’re saying. You can relate to their experiences, thoughts, or mental states in some way. Expressing yourself in a support group can be hard, particularly if you’re shy, introverted, or socially anxious. Nevertheless, when you really connect with someone else’s words, this may be all it takes to get your pain out in the open.
Male support groups are also valuable because they help men to trust each other. During these meetings, you can show vulnerability and tender emotions and find out that you’re not going to be laughed at, mocked, ignored, undermined, or judged for doing so. Speaking up in these groups can be uncomfortable, yet once you do it, it can be an extremely liberating feeling. Male support groups present an opportunity for men who have been closed off for so long to finally reveal what they’re struggling with. Indeed, many men speak about issues in these groups that they’ve never told anyone before.
Creating and maintaining male support groups can, therefore, be a highly effective way to encourage men to open up. They can help men to break down barriers, feel comfortable expressing emotions, accept compassion from other men, and learn how to feel compassion for themselves and other men too.
Support groups may act as the first stepping-stone in becoming more open as a man. But not every man is ready to take that leap. An alternative initial step could be blogging about mental health. Currently, there is a serious lack of male mental health bloggers or advocates. Most are female. This, of course, reflects the fact that women feel much more comfortable talking about mental health and well-being than men do.
But mental health blogging plays an important role in fostering a culture of openness. Many mental health bloggers write with passion and raw honesty that can be incredibly insightful, inspiring, and motivating. Their words may help other people with mental health issues to open up, as well as the general population to better empathize with these struggles. The stories of mental health bloggers allow us to see that emotional suffering can wreak havoc on one’s life. This is crucial in challenging self-stigma and public stigma, both of which prevent people from opening up.
However, if you’re a man and you only see female mental health bloggers, you may come to believe that this activity is reserved for women, that to do it yourself would be ‘effeminate’. However, the very fact that so few men write about their mental health is exactly why more men should do it. There’s nothing embarrassing or effeminate about it.
Writing something personal and honest about yourself and sharing it with the world is, undoubtedly, a bit nerve-wracking. You may genuinely believe you have something worth sharing, even if it just helps one other man relate to your story and want to get something off their chest. Yet biting the bullet and publicizing your mental health issue can still lead to a slew of self-doubt and imagined judgment (My writing is terrible, What will so-and-so think of me? How would anyone find me attractive again after knowing this?)
You’d be surprised, though, how much others appreciate pure honesty. Male mental health bloggers can help other men to view their pain under a different light and may encourage them to open up, in spite of worries about being emasculated.
Simply put, the best way that men can open up is to open up when they feel it will benefit them. Deep down, a man’s intuition may tell him that he has to tell a friend something that is eating him up inside. Maybe his mental health issue has been spiraling out of control and he no longer feels he can manage. The problem, however, is that after an intuitive thought and desire to be open, self-limiting thoughts can follow, thoughts about how awkward, embarrassing, inappropriate, or emasculating it will be to admit to your friend that you’re not ok.
If men want to see a world in which they as individuals and men, in general, can show their emotions, then it’s something they have to practice. Being open really does get easier over time. You will start to feel more confident the more you do it and will realize that your mental health massively improves as a result.
Whether you’re experiencing positive emotions you see as ‘unmanly’ (e.g. compassion, kindness, and care) or having a negative experience (e.g. depression, anxiety, a personal crisis, or failure), it’s important to take action. And often, the first action that will help you is having an honest chat with someone and reaching out for help.
Opening up as a man in the modern world is not easy. However, each man who decides to do it can set off a domino effect he couldn’t have imagined he would influence. When you tell your friend about your mental health struggle, he may relay his own. This increases trust and solidifies friendships. Men, unfortunately, lack support networks or don’t have the same kind of support network that their female counterparts do. But by practicing openness, men can let their friends and loved ones know that they’re struggling and build a support network as a result.
Now, it may be the case that a friend, partner, or family member may not understand you, and may even respond to your openness in a negative, dismissive, judgemental, or stigmatizing manner. This can be a painful, humiliating experience. But honestly, this reaction is rare. And besides, the response you get from your openness will reveal to you who you can rely on and who you can’t.
It’s also critical for men with mental health issues to not be afraid about seeing a therapist, as this is something many men avoid doing. The level of openness you present during a therapy session can make a big difference to your mental health, so it’s crucial that men don’t undervalue or ignore the option of therapy. As a man, you may resist going to therapy for fear of how it might make you appear as a man in the eyes of your male friends or peers. You don’t want to be seen as struggling or in need of help. However, if your male friend were in a similar situation to you, you would understand that professional help might be what they need and that they should definitely not be ashamed about it.
While many men struggle to open up, we also shouldn’t judge men who have a hard time expressing themselves. Saying that these men are being secretive or emotionless, and judging them for their caginess, may not be helpful, especially for men who are experiencing mental health issues. There are many pressures on men not to be open. So don’t feel guilty or be hard on yourself if, as a man, you are not being completely open about your feelings.
Opening up can be a gradual process – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Do whatever works for you. Don’t try to live up to any expectations about how closed or open you should be. Moreover, it should be emphasized that talking is not always enough. Other strategies for protecting mental health should be considered, such as medication, diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes. Furthermore, the people who love the men in their lives – boyfriends, husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons – should remember that listening to them without judgment is a key component of fostering a culture of openness.
Men all over the world can open up more once they realize a basic truth, that it’s ok not to be ok. And this holds true whatever your gender is.
There’s been a lot of discussion in the media over the last couple years about the topic of “toxic masculinity.” Some commentators seem to blame it for all the world’s problems, while others feel the term itself is an attack on all men, no matter what their backgrounds. It is difficult to find a measured view of what toxic masculinity is, detached from personal opinions and judgments. If you look at Twitter conversations on the subject, you will find anger and rhetoric, often along political lines.
But toxic masculinity is an important concept in the field of psychology. Understanding it in such a way that it is helpful rather than harmful, is necessary in order to address the actual problems.
As soon as we use the term “toxic masculinity,” we hit a point of contention. Are we saying that masculinity is toxic, or are we saying that there is a kind of masculinity that is toxic? For the purposes of healing, it is crucial that we maintain the latter approach. In a psychological sense, a person or group of people are never the problem. Rather, it is a behavior or set of behaviors that is problematic.
Masculinity itself is not easily defined. When we get down to the biological basics, men and women are not all that different. Aside from the obvious physical differences, our brains are almost exactly the same. Most of the differences we perceive between the genders stem from social and cultural constructs of how we expect men and women to behave.
So masculinity can be defined as a set of traits or even a culture we consider masculine. There is, of course, nothing wrong with being a man or associating with masculine traits, which is why it is so important to separate masculinity itself from the concept of toxicity.
In the context of toxic masculinity, toxicity refers to behaviors, feelings, and thoughts which have a negative impact on the individual and those around them. Toxicity therefore refers to when traits considered masculine are exaggerated to a point at which they become harmful, as well as traits which if expressed at all will harm others.
For example, a man can be proud of his physical strength and even consider it an aspect of his masculinity. However, if he uses it to abuse, exert control over or denigrate others, it has become toxic. At their worst, toxic traits can lead to rape, murder, and other forms of violence. Similarly, if his self-worth is bound up in how physically strong he is, it has become toxic to himself.
When considering toxic masculinity, psychologists are therefore concerned about two separate but related themes: the harm it causes to woman and the harm it causes to men.
Many women speak to their therapists about the effect of toxic masculinity on their own lives. It comes through in their relationships with bosses, romantic partners, or family members. It comes through in their near-constant, realistic fear of rape. It also comes through in how they see themselves. Since the toxicity does not refer to masculinity itself, one does not need masculine traits in order to exhibit its effects. A lot of women have implicitly bought into toxic conceptions.
Its expression in men is markedly different. Many men speak to their therapists about how difficult it is to be vulnerable without feeling like they’re not real men. But most men don’t speak to therapists, or anyone, about this at all. The toxic idea that men should never show signs of weakness, should never cry, and should never ask for help, is literally killing men.
The statistics consistently show that more women are depressed than men. However, twice as many men commit suicide. The disparity between the numbers mostly comes down to the simple fact that men are far less likely to admit to themselves or others that they are struggling.
It is in this and other ways that toxic masculinity harms men to such a degree as to be fatal.
It is therefore imperative to note that masculinity in and of itself is not toxic. Many experts emphasize that there are many masculinities. There are many traits and even cultures that men and women consider masculine which are not toxic. Most of these “masculinities” are healthy and are to the detriment of neither men nor women.
There are those who would rather we didn’t refer to it as toxic masculinity at all. They point out that it is not masculinity, or even one of many masculinities, that is toxic. Rather, it is a toxic culture of masculinity. Author Mark Greene explains the difference as such:
“Culture is a construct, formed and shaped by all of us. It represents not us as individuals, but a collective agreement on how we should behave.”
Calling it a culture makes the clear distinction that this is not something inherent in men or masculinity itself.
In gender studies, there is a concept known as hegemonic masculinity. This refers to a culture that legitimizes men’s dominance in society and justifies the subordination of women. It is a significant part of what most people think of when they hear or say the term toxic masculinity. It can be an implicitly held viewpoint, or a philosophy to which an individual knowingly subscribes.
Toxic masculinity, or the toxic culture of masculinity, is deeply rooted in most societies across the world. It is perceptible in gender norms, career expectations, work environments, and even the way we educate children. With this perspective, the concept may seem too overwhelming to counter.
However, a culture exists among individuals, and by making the choice to change your own ideas and behaviors, you make an immediate difference, regardless of your sex or gender.
From a psychological standpoint, therapy is the perfect space to carve out your individual sense of self. Therapy can therefore help you challenge your own beliefs about masculinity, particularly in how they manifest in your life. Women can learn how to see themselves without the lens of the culture. Men can learn to let go of the expectations which are holding them back.
We need a nuanced understanding of toxic masculinity in order to deal with its effects on both men and women. You can begin by challenging the way you think of masculinity, as it relates to yourself and others.
A common theme that runs through all psychological approaches is that what happens in childhood has a huge impact on our adult lives. When we’re young, we have not yet developed adequate coping mechanisms. Everything that occurs is therefore amplified and goes a long way to shaping how we react to things.
This is especially true for people who have suffered childhood trauma. Childhood trauma plays a major role in the development of unhealthy defenses. If you never process it, you will continue reacting to life in the way you did as a frightened child.
Fortunately, there are now many psychological treatments for childhood trauma, even decades after the event. Here is everything you need to know about treating childhood trauma.
Childhood trauma refers to a frightening, dangerous, or violent event that poses a threat to a child’s life or bodily integrity. This includes traumatic events that occur to their caregivers, or any person the child looks to for safety and stability.
Childhood trauma causes physical and emotional responses that may continue to affect the individual through adulthood.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are any events that had a lasting negative impact on a child. There are countless potential examples. Some of the most common are:
While most parents do their best to protect their children from all of the above, they do not have control over all circumstances. Thus, even those who grew up in loving, functional families, may have suffered from significant ACEs.
ACEs can include events which may not seem so significant to adults but which significantly impact a child’s state of mind. Mockery from a sibling or parent, being told to stop crying, strong criticism, and more can all shape a child’s coping mechanisms. When treating childhood trauma later in life, many therapists advise clients to begin with these types of ACEs before moving onto the more bluntly traumatic events. This way, the individual can start reshaping their defense mechanisms before exposure to the most traumatic events in their lives.
Many adults, those who have suffered childhood traumas and those who have not, believe that these events should be left in the past. After all, what’s the use of reliving the worst parts of one’s life?
Unfortunately, childhood trauma does not simply remain in the past. It continues to disrupt the individual’s life into adulthood. If it is never dealt with, it will cause problems for the individual indefinitely. These can be emotional or physical problems, and won’t disappear on their own.
There are lifelong effects of childhood trauma that will continue to disrupt your life if you never adequately deal with the event.
Childhood trauma can be physically damaging for a number of reasons. Firstly, a person’s stress response is largely physical. Your body will continue to carry the burden of the traumatic event. Physical stress contributes to all sorts of illnesses, including heart disease, certain cancers, and risk of stroke.
Furthermore, individuals find ways to avoid feeling the distressing emotions. These responses are often physically damaging, such as binge-eating, addiction, unsafe sex, and self-harm.
Those who have suffered from sexual abuse may also suffer from sexual dysfunction later in life.
Unresolved childhood trauma also impacts how one reacts to stress later in life. Your immediate responses to stressors may be impaired. When in a fight-or-flight situation, you might respond in a way that puts you at more danger, rather than keeping yourself safe. Alternatively, your stress responses may be activated by everyday events, and not only those that put your life in danger.
Overactivation of one’s stress responses can lead to a number of problems. The physical responses are unhealthy when activated too regularly and can cause the aforementioned health issues.
They can also impair how you react to common situations. You may respond to work pressure, relationship difficulties, or even traffic jams with your fight-or-flight instincts. This can lead to recurrent work problems, self-destructive behavior, and inappropriate anger.
While stress related to childhood trauma can lead to long-term physical issues, there are illnesses that can be triggered more directly by trauma. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common among American adults. An estimated 5% of American adults are suffering from PTSD at any time. Childhood trauma is the cause of a significant number of these cases.
Childhood trauma leads to what is called “complex PTSD.” This kind of PTSD is caused by the child’s stress response developing at the same time as the trauma is ongoing. Rather than their stress response being impaired by a trauma, their stress response is entirely shaped by trauma.
Other mental illnesses can also be the result of childhood trauma. Depression is often a result of repeated numbing of overwhelming emotions. When an individual has not processed childhood trauma, the magnitude of these emotions is immense.
Childhood trauma also leads to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), anger problems, and abandonment issues.
It is natural to ask whether “cleaning out the closet” is actually worth it. If your closet is overflowing with difficult emotions, opening it up is frightening, and doing so without help can be downright dangerous.
But, while cleaning out the closet might lead to difficulties, the consequences of leaving childhood trauma untouched are guaranteed. It will disrupt your life, in an overt or covert way. Your relationships will suffer, and your mental and physical health will deteriorate.
Seeing as there are numerous ways to deal with childhood trauma, and resources available if you know where to look, it is definitely worth cleaning out the closet.
How do you start healing childhood trauma? For someone who has lived for decades with the effects of ACEs, this question can seem overwhelming. Can scars that have been there for so long actually be treated?
The good news is, you are not alone. There are millions of others who have had to deal with childhood trauma as adults and come out the other side. They have uncovered a range of ways to start healing which have been empirically proven to work.
It’s possible that you experienced your childhood traumas alongside other family members. If so, it can be helpful to talk about the event with them. Hand-in-hand, you can tackle the memories and associated feelings. It helps to have someone with whom you can sound out your experience, who will validate your feelings and will understand why you are struggling.
If you can’t talk about your problems with your family, or if family members were the cause of your traumas, close friends can be the perfect support systems. Recall your experience to someone you love and who loves you, and who you know will not judge you. Simply telling someone your story will relieve a burden, and you’ll have opened up a space for you to express the feelings you’ve suppressed for so long.
This is not necessarily the space for advice. Some friends and family members will feel compelled to try “fix” your problems. Let them know that all you need is someone to talk to. That the only “fix” you need is someone who listens.
Unfortunately, many millions of people experience childhood trauma. The one up-side of this is that finding others who can relate is relatively easy. Support groups for victims of childhood trauma exist in nearly every city.
These support groups may be specific to those who have suffered a particular trauma. For example, if you came to the country as a young refugee, you may be able to find a group of people who experienced similar hardship in having to flee their home countries. Sexual abuse survivors can find groups of other survivors who will listen and understand exactly what they’ve gone through.
But you don’t have to find a group of people who have gone through exactly what you did. Support groups are made up of people who are trying to tell their stories and who also want to listen. Sharing with a group of understanding individuals provides an outlet to the feelings you’ve stored up for so long.
Support groups will be led by a counselor who has experience in guiding people through the process of sharing. It is a safe space, where you can express yourself without fear of judgment or negative consequences.
One of the most effective ways to face your childhood trauma is with the help of a skilled and experienced counselor. Therapy is the perfect space to confront frightening memories and feelings. A good counselor will guide you through the process, making sure you go at a pace that you can handle and being there to support you when you hit a roadblock or feel overwhelmed.
A counselor is a crucial part of the process, as they will help you understand exactly how your trauma has impacted and continues to impact your adult life. They will guide you in exploring the development of certain coping mechanisms and how these mechanisms are no longer useful. They will help you build new mechanisms that are effective and appropriate.
Counselors with experience in childhood trauma will have skills in their therapy toolbox to help each individual deal with their experiences appropriately. These include the unconditional acceptance person-centered therapy, the practical skills of CBT, and the healing effects of mindfulness.
They will be there as you heal, and will help you access any further resources necessary to dealing with the consequences of childhood trauma. They can refer you to a psychiatrist if they feel that medication will help, and will also give you guidance or references for addressing the physical impact that trauma has had on you.
Finding a therapist in your vicinity is not always easy. Where do you even start looking?
There are a number of ways to find a counselor who can help you. Asking your doctor for a referral, or looking through online directories, are common strategies.
ThriveTalk provides an easy and effective alternative. Online therapy is a new approach to the traditional medium of therapy. Online therapy refers to therapy performed remotely, through video and voice calling.
With online therapy, you can find the right counselor, rather than whoever happens to be closest. Instead of worrying about practicalities, focus on doing what’s best for your mental wellbeing.
It’s important to know what you want in a counselor.
You should feel comfortable sharing with the person. This is crucial, as if they intimidate you or you feel you can’t be open with them, you will struggle to heal. You should also feel a certain rapport with your counselor. They are there to help you heal, and it’s important that comes through in the way they relate to you.
It’s also helpful that they have experience dealing with childhood trauma. Any fully-registered counselor has done thousands of hours of therapy. Find out if they specialized in one field or another, and how that can help you.
Ask a potential counselor about their particular approach. Different therapists use different types of therapy to treat clients. All experienced counselors use techniques that have been empirically shown to work, but you may relate to one type more than another.
Ask about their experience, and how you can expect therapy to proceed. Give them a bit of information about yourself and see how you feel talking to them. Your relationship with them is foundational to the success of therapy, and how you feel with them can be more important than the content of their answers.
ThriveTalk makes finding the right counselor possible with just a few clicks. Our highly-skilled counselors are ready to help you confront your childhood trauma.
Set up a consultation today with ThriveTalk. You’ll be scheduling your first session before you know it!
Essential oils are mysterious and powerful natural products. Throughout history, they were used as perfumes and to add extra flavor to foods. Since ancient times these miraculous oils have been recognized for their medicinal values and today still, various essential oils are thought to be invaluable.
These naturally scented oils are the aromatic compounds that you can find in nature. Essential oils come in various forms. They can be found in body oils, lotions and liquids and their main purpose is to boost well-being through aromatherapy.
If you think about it, essential oils are quite versatile. On top of giving off a nice smell; they can have wondrous benefits for your psychological and overall health.
Several scientific studies have shown that aromatherapy may have the potential to reduce stress, anxiety, and insomnia. You may be wondering if they really work. Essential oils for anxiety may be surprisingly effective.
Let’s begin your crash course on essential oils and the benefits they may have for anxiety!
Anxiety is basically the natural response your body has to stress. Are you familiar with that fearful feeling about things to come? Think about how you felt on our first day back at school or about the dreadful panicky feeling you get before giving a speech. That nervous feeling is anxiety in a nutshell and most of us experience it at some point in our lives.
For certain people however, anxiety is not as commonplace as for others. If you have extreme feelings of anxiety or if you feel anxious constantly over a period of weeks or months you may very well have an anxiety disorder.
It is normal to have some level of anxiety about various life experiences and even though it can be unpleasant, you may actually be motivated by your anxiety to achieve greater things in life. This type of ordinary anxiety comes and goes and under normal circumstances it does not interfere with your life.
Those who struggle with anxiety disorders may find the everyday activities that many of us take for granted rather challenging and their symptoms get in the way of them living normal lives. They are confronted with feelings of fear and apprehension most of the time.
In extreme cases, anxiety may affect individuals in such a way that they stop doing the things they once enjoyed. They may not even be able to enter elevators, cross streets or leave their homes. If this kind of anxiety is not treated properly, it might get worse.
Anxiety affects people in different ways. Feelings of anxiety can range from an unsteady feeling in the stomach to a racing heart. Some may feel out of control or disconnected from the bodies. Others may find it difficult to keep unwelcome thoughts out of their minds.
The symptoms that make life difficult for those who suffer from anxiety include:
An anxiety attack is characterized by a feeling of overwhelming fear or apprehension. It may build slowly and it may worsen close to a stressful event. Many people who deal with anxiety tend to connect anxious feelings to specific events or situations and they may end up going to incredible lengths to avoid future feelings of anxiety.
The exact cause of anxiety is not clear, however, it has been suggested that a combination of factors can contribute to its development. Genetic factors, environmental factors and brain chemistry are all assumed to be involved. Additionally, researchers believe that the parts of the brain that control fear may hold answers to this mystery.
Anxiety disorders have become the most common type of emotional disorder and it can affect anyone at any stage in their life.
In the U.S. around 40 million adults are affected by anxiety disorders every year which is approximately 18.1% of the population.
Even though anxiety is highly treatable, only an estimated 36.9% of individuals suffering from this debilitating disorder receive treatment for it.
According to statistics, the likelihood of someone with an anxiety disorder to seek help from a doctor is 3-5 times higher than that of anyone who does not have problems with anxiety. They are also more or less 6 times more likely to receive in-hospital treatment for psychiatric disorders than people who don’t have anxiety disorders.
Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders tend to also suffer from co-occurring mental disorders or physical illnesses. It is common for someone who has an anxiety disorder to also have problems with depression and nearly 50% of people diagnosed with depression are eventually also diagnosed with a form of anxiety disorder.
The traditional treatment for anxiety generally falls into the categories of psychotherapy and medication. In severe cases treatment can assist you in overcoming the symptoms that go along with anxiety to enable you to live a more manageable life.
Once your anxiety disorder has been diagnosed, you can explore the different treatment options with your health care provider.
Meetings with a psychologist or therapist can help you learn about tools and strategies you can utilize to cope better with anxiety.
Some of the typical medications used in the treatment of anxiety are sedative medications and antidepressants. These medications play an important part in balancing your brain chemistry and in combatting the most disabling symptoms of anxiety disorders.
In several cases medical treatment is not necessary for individuals struggling with anxiety. Home remedies or lifestyle changes may be more than helpful to provide them with the means to overcome the debilitating symptoms they cope with daily.
Most home remedies involve taking care of your body, participating in healthy activities and getting rid of unhealthy habits.
Examples of home remedies that can give you an advantage in your battle with anxiety are:
The highly concentrated oils which are extracted from the flowers, roots, and leaves of plants are known as essential oils. These oils capture the scent and flavor of a plant and the unique aromatic compounds contained within essential oils are what give them a characteristic essence.
Essential oils can either be inhaled or applied to your skin. The chemicals found in essential oils can have a number of different effects on your body. They can work through stimulating your sense of smell or they can have medicinal effects after being absorbed by your skin.
In aromatherapy, molecules of essential oils are generally inhaled or they are absorbed through the skin. It is thought that they could possibly influence parts of the brain and nervous system. Additionally, essential oils can have an effect on certain hormones, the metabolism and other functions in the body.
Essential oils are commonly used to repel insects, boost mood and to ensure a good night’s rest. But, did you know that they can be used in aromatherapy to relieve anxiety?
Research has shown that essential oils for anxiety can significantly reduce the bothering symptoms associated with this condition. Although the effects of these magnificent oils still need to be studied more rigorously, the fact remains that aromatherapy is fast-acting as well as easy to apply.
Essential oils for anxiety are much too potent to be used directly on the skin. They need to be diluted with some or other kind of carrier oil before being applied to your skin. By diluting your essential oils before application, you reduce your risk for skin irritation. Almond oil, coconut oil, and jojoba oil are popular carrier oils.
Remember that essential oils may cause allergic reactions in certain people. It is highly advisable for you to do a patch test on an area of skin before you use essential oils for anxiety topically. Drop a little bit of diluted oil onto your wrist or elbow and cover it up with a bandage. You can check the area after 24 hours for any skin reactions like redness, itching or a rash. If you can spot these irritations, you are most likely allergic.
Various soaps, lotions, shampoos, and bath salts are enhanced with essential oils. You may have used them before during a massage or a spa treatment.
Essential oils for anxiety should absolutely not be ingested, ever! Ignore any claims on the internet that tell you otherwise. There is certainly not enough research on any specific essential oils to prove that they are safe to swallow and some of them are toxic.
When essential oils for anxiety are absorbed through your skin or when you inhale their aromas they affect your body on a physiological level. Studies have found that aromatherapy can have measurable benefits for reducing anxiety, sleeplessness, and stress.
Essential oils are most commonly used in folk medicine and Ayurveda to remedy anxiety.
The mode of action of essential oils for anxiety is pretty complex. Essential oils for anxiety contain compounds that can pass through the membranes of our skins. They can also be inhaled easily through the respiratory tract and our lungs. These compounds are distributed into the bloodstream following these initial entries from where they can reach target organs.
Moreover, receptor cells in the nose are activated when you inhale essential oils for anxiety. The signal is transmitted from there to specific parts of the brain where they activate the release of “messengers” like serotonin and endorphins. This is believed to result in a psychological feeling of relief.
If you had a particularly stressful day or if you are anxious before an important meeting, a session of aromatherapy can do wonders for your stress levels. However, you should keep in mind that it is no substitute for getting professional help from a doctor.
Let’s jump right into learning about which essential oils you can try using to relieve your anxiety symptoms.
Lavender wins the popularity award when it comes to aromatherapy oils. Experts argue that lavender can relax the brain and reduce anxiety.
If you can’t sleep, chamomile is your go-to essential oil. It is well-known for its sedating and relaxing properties. This essential oil for anxiety helps to calm an overactive mind.
Inhaling the rich scent of peppermint essential oil can relax you to reduce high levels of anxiety.
Bergamot is another one of the essential oils for anxiety that can improve your mood and relieve anxiety through its invigoratingly fresh citrus scent.
This aromatic essential oil has a musky and sweet scent that is considered to relieve anxiety.
Essential oils for anxiety are safe in general with minimal adverse effects. However, the following points are vitally important to keep in mind for your safety when using essential oils:
Aromatherapy is practiced widely nowadays. From lavender essential oils to the oils of chamomile, the assorted scents of essential oils have relaxing properties which make them ideal for relieving anxiety.
While the currently available research on essential oils for anxiety is fairly limited, their benefits have nonetheless been explored and documented.
Considering the fact that essential oils for anxiety are not likely to cause harm, you could just as well test their effects to see which work for you. If you use essential oils regularly, over time you may find that simply inhaling their scents will assist you in recalling memories of feeling calm.
When life gives you essential oils for anxiety, why not try them?