I don’t have any diagnosable mental health issues but I hate my life and am drowning in constant stress and anxiety. : mentalhealth


I am in a situation (and have been for nearly two years where it has been getting progressively worse) where I am surrounded by people who are in constant conflict with each other (and in turn, with me). My mom was/is emotionally abusive and I have had to go through a lot of therapy and learn to set boundaries to begin healing.

My fiance really hates her (and my dad for enabling) and things were really tense between them. Also, I was for awhile not addressing some of the issues my parents were causing in getting in the middle of our relationship. i have since tried to do so and my parents have gotten better (relatively speaking) but it has caused a lot of long-term problems with my fiance and I. Oftentimes we feel that we are put in the middle of issues with our parents and pitted against each other. The low-point of my life was our lease not getting renewed in our co-op because neighbors had filed complaints about our fights (not abuse, just yelling). That happened about 7 months ago. Of course we were and are mortified and feel awful.

Since then though, now my FIANCE’s parents are getting in on this and are constantly getting on my fiance’s case, saying rude stuff about me and trying to control our wedding. Mostly, my fiance has fought back but lately he has been really stressed and his reaction to stress is to yell. The latest thing is that my parents are angry at me for booking the wedding 1 hour and 45 min from them and are calling me hypocritical because I previously said I wanted the wedding to be equidistant between both families. And today, my fiance’s mom got angry at him for not calling them on their anniversary and she got angry at me for not posting about her on Mother’s Day on Facebook when I posted about my own mom. I thought my fiance would take my side but he thinks it was really rude of me and not considerate (I think he is lashing out because his mom freaked out at them for not calling and just texting on their anniversary and called him a bad son).

Anyway so every single day is another source of drama and stress and anxiety and someone is usually always mad at my fiance or me or both. Today I feel like the scapegoat. Some days it’s him. I feel really alone and miserable in a constant tornado of entitled angry people.

I know I probably sound like a dramatic, unhealthy and immature person. I am going to therapy and work on myself a LOT. I struggle with paralyzing indecision because someone will be angry at me no matter what I do.

I hate my life and am drowning.

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Calls for change as new report finds Victorian paramedics under stress levels akin to a mental disorder


Paramedic Dean Adams was coming home from a 12-hour night shift during which a patient had threatened to murder him when he realised something had to give.

He’d barely had time to use the toilet, let alone eat anything that night, as his crew was sent from job to job — culminating in treating a man who’d assaulted a police officer, and then turned on him.

In his three years since starting as a paramedic, Mr Adams has seen the workload increase dramatically.

“The relentlessness was just unsustainable going forward, and for me that was evidenced by sleeping difficulties … it was impacting my eating patterns,” he said.

He was dreading going to work, especially to back-to-back 12-hour night shifts.

He stopped seeing friends and felt drained.

“I think we all strive to provide the best care to our patients … but there’s times where you’ve been working for 10-12 hours and you haven’t had time to stop and recover … and that’s when it becomes dangerous,” he said.

A new study, led by researchers at Swinburne and RMIT universities and obtained exclusively by the ABC, has found that like Mr Adams, many Ambulance Victoria employees are at breaking point.

More than a third feel burnt out by their work, and 10 per cent are looking to leave the profession in the next year.

Almost one in 10 are exhibiting stress levels comparable to having a severe psychological disorder, while a quarter report being under moderate levels of psychological distress.

In comparison, previous studies have found less than 13 per cent of the general population exhibits similar distress levels.

Report author Peter Holland said the research pointed to a dangerous level of emotional exhaustion in the workforce, far beyond anything he’d seen in his previous studies on nurses in hospitals.

“They’re under very significant levels of stress, to the extent that some of these people need some help themselves in that sense,” Professor Holland said.

The survey of 663 staff — about 17 per cent of on-road Ambulance Victoria employees — was completed in September last year during Melbourne’s second COVID-19 lockdown. 

But Professor Holland and co-author Lara Thynne believe the situation would not have changed since that time because workloads had increased dramatically since the lockdown ended.

“If anything, things have gotten worse,” Dr Thynne said.

She said while being a paramedic was always a high-intensity job, the research found recent trends of missing meal breaks, working overtime, and gruelling night shifts with no rest time were taking their toll.

“The damage is the emotional effects on paramedics outside work. We know paramedics [already] have higher rates of suicide, and higher rates of marriage breakdown,” she said.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown ended, Victoria’s health system has been under strain, with demand for ambulances skyrocketing.

Victoria’s hospital emergency departments are full, which leads to ramping — a situation where paramedics care for a patient in the ambulance outside a hospital until a bed becomes available inside.

This in turn prevents the crew from attending emergencies in the community.

Pair that with an increase in call-outs in recent months, and ambulance wait times are now at their worst levels in six years, according to new quarterly data.

The deadly consequences of this were evident two weeks ago, when 32-year-old Christina Lackmann died after waiting six hours for an ambulance.

It prompted the Victorian government on Friday to announce more than $750 million in the upcoming budget for more paramedics, better systems to deal with non-urgent emergency calls, and better access to beds in emergency departments.

The exact reasons for increased call-outs are not known, but Danny Hill from the Victorian Ambulance Union said his members were seeing more patients with chronic illnesses who had let their treatment go during the pandemic.

He also believes his members are increasingly taking patients who don’t need further care to hospital, because the paramedics fear they won’t be supported by Ambulance Victoria if the patient later suffers an adverse event.

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TIME TO STRETCH THE STRESS AWAY


Are you feeling stressed, overworked, like you have tight muscles or a mind that won’t stop thinking? Then why not come and see what the benefits of yoga can do to relieve some of these stressors. The FREE Yoga classes are the fourth round of Move for Me classes being held as part Council’s grant initiative to get people moving for their mental health.
The last week of Zumba is tonight (Thursday, 15 April 2021 at 5:15pm in the Town Hall so feel free to check it out before it is too late. Otherwise come along next Thursday at 5:30pm to the Town Hall for the first of six Yoga sessions with Bronwen Campbell.

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Sleep, stress, or hormones? Brain fog during perimenopause



Often when people think of perimenopause, irregular periods and hot flashes come to mind. But some women may notice another symptom: brain fog.

You’re reading a letter and suddenly realize your thoughts have drifted off and you need to start again. Or you draw a blank when you’re trying to remember someone’s name, or find yourself standing in a room, wondering what you came there to get.

The good news is that these small cognitive blips are probably not anything you need to worry about long-term.

Sleep disturbances and stress may be part of brain fog

Those times when you are less focused and a bit forgetful are likely not just due to hormonal changes. Sleep quality, perhaps related to night sweats during perimenopause, could definitely contribute. Increased stress that sometimes accompanies this stage of life may also have you feeling frazzled and distracted. These factors can interfere with concentration and memory.

Not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling cranky and sluggish. This may be why you can’t remember what’s-her-name: you weren’t paying close enough attention when she told you her name in the first place.

Stress can have a similar effect by pulling your thoughts off task, because you’re preoccupied, worrying about something else.

What can you do to feel less foggy?

If this sounds like you, there are some things you can do to help lift the fog and get your brain re-engaged.

  • Slow down. Train yourself to recognize when you’re distracted, and take a moment to breathe and refocus on the task at hand. If you’ve just taken in some new information, try to find a quiet moment to give your brain a chance to process what you’ve learned.
  • Manage your stress. Using mindful meditation or other stress-reduction strategies can also help you to relax and be more present. This can help you absorb new information and recall it more easily.
  • Get regular exercise. Physical activity benefits not only your body, but also your mind. One study found that just three days a week of moderate-intensity exercise appeared to increase the size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory and learning.
  • Improve your sleep habits. If you are experiencing poor sleep quality, work on strategies that can help you get more rest at night. Improve your sleep hygiene by making changes, such as staying off electronic devices close to bedtime and establishing a regular sleep schedule. Check with your doctor if at-home strategies aren’t doing the trick.
  • Use memory tricks. Did you ever use little tricks to remember things when you were studying for a test in school? Those same mental cheats can help you now as well. For example, make up a mnemonic or a rhyme to help you recall information. Or try using visual or verbal clues. Repeating information or instructions to yourself or someone else is another way to help your brain store information more effectively.

Know when to seek help

Most small memory lapses are nothing to worry about. If changes due to perimenopause — including irregular periods, trouble sleeping due to night sweats, or brain fog — bother you, talk to your doctor about possible solutions.

It’s also important to call your doctor if

  • memory changes come on suddenly, or are accompanied by hallucinations, paranoia, or delusions
  • memory lapses might put your safety at risk, such as affecting your driving or forgetting food cooking on the stove.

The post Sleep, stress, or hormones? Brain fog during perimenopause appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

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We should be funding stress leave and high-quality PTSD care for all victims of abuse | Richard Dennis | Opinion


Practical support for the thousands of Australian women who are sexually or physically assaulted by men is not simply woefully inadequate, it is nonexistent. If you are a casually employed woman in Australia who is raped or assaulted you are entitled to five days unpaid leave. In short, just beginning to recover from an attack would cost a woman on minimum wage more than $700 a week.

Imagine having to go to work in the days after a physical or sexual assault because you couldn’t afford not to. There is no rent holiday for victims of violence, nor is there a discount at the supermarket. Imagine having to front up at Centrelink, or for a job interview, in the days after an assault because you feared being “breached” and losing your unemployment payments.

But of course, if you are a government minister who is accused of failing to support an employee who alleges to have been raped on your watch, or a minister accused of committing rape, you could be placed on taxpayer-funded medical leave and paid $7,000 a week.

Christian Porter has strenuously denied the allegations that have been made against him and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

But no one can deny that MPs suffering stress and anxiety are provided with far more taxpayer support than women who have been the victim of violence.

And while no one doubts the genuine pressure that Porter is under, does anyone believe that those who are the victims of physical or sexual violence are in less need of help?

There should be significant government spending on paid leave and mental health support services for the victims of assault that affect more than 100,000 women each year.

Providing all victims of sexual or domestic violence with the kind of support offered to highly-paid ministers would cost billions of dollars a year. And – let’s be clear – employers don’t want to pay for such support and neither does the Morrison government. But let’s also be clear that the money is there. Australia is one of the richest countries in the world and, as described below, we never struggle to find the money when tax cuts for high-income blokes are on the table. It’s not just leave for women recovering from violence that we need to adequately fund and fairly distribute, it’s mental health care as well.

When soldiers, emergency service workers or medical professionals experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of what they endure in the workplace, the government (rightly) picks up the very expensive tab for treating their condition and helping them heal. But when women and children develop PTSD because of what they endure at the hands of violent men there is far less such support. We know how to help people with PTSD, but we choose to provide far more help to those who develop it at work than those who develop it at the hands of a violent man.

It would cost a lot of money to help hundreds of thousands of women and children heal the scars that men gave them and, to be blunt, it looks like the government has no interest in spending that much money on a “women’s problem”. It is not that the government “can’t afford” to spend billions helping women and children – it’s that it has quite different priorities.

In 2018 it was reported that sexual assault victims were waiting up to 14 months for counselling as specialist support services were so desperately underfunded and under-resourced.

Each year the government spends around $41bn on superannuation tax concessions to help some of us have a more comfortable retirement. Around $21bn of that goes to those in the top 20%, most of whom are blokes. But I bet you have never heard a Morrison government minister say that the government “can’t afford” to help rich blokes retire even richer.

Then there’s the looming tax cuts. By July 2024 people earning more than $200,000 a year (or $3,900 a week) will reap a more than $9,000 a year windfall in the form of Stage 3 tax cuts. And, you guessed it, 74% of people earning that much are blokes. Despite these tax cuts costing almost $19bn a year, again, we have not heard a peep from the Coalition about these enormous and permanent tax cuts being “unaffordable” or “unsustainable”. Such negative adjectives are only ever used to describe spending on those in need.

Australia is so rich that even in the middle of a pandemic we can afford to spend $500m extending the Canberra war memorial and $1.2bn subsidising half-price flights to north Queensland and other tourist hotspots. But, despite our wealth and despite recognising the benefits of stress leave for members of his cabinet, the PM does not seem to think that his government should be funding stress leave and high-quality PTSD care for all victims of abuse.

We all know how hard people find it to tell Scott Morrison what is going on. But we also all know that conversations with his ministers have clearly made him understand the benefits of letting those who have experienced severe stress recover before they return to work.

If only the prime minister would have a conversation with women who had to return to work just days after they were raped, or with students who have to go back to school with those who raped them. Perhaps he would stop trying to “draw a line” under this crisis, and start trying to help those who have been harmed by it.

Richard Denniss is chief economist at independent thinktank The Australia Institute @RDNS_TAI

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. International helplines can be found via www.befrienders.org.

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Helpful Practices to Manage Stress and Anxiety


Watch on YouTube.

Transcript

Announcer:
GREAT: Helpful Practices to Manage Stress and Anxiety
www.nimh.nih.gov/stressandanxiety
GREAT was developed by Dr. Krystal Lewis, a licensed clinical psychologist at NIMH.
Gratitude
Relaxation
Exercise
Acknowledge feelings
Track thoughts
Be GREAT

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Natural escape for stress


More than a dozen locals lost themselves in “ephemeral” art to cope with “eco-anxiety” from climate change and escape everyday stress at Paraparap’s Droll Karr Buddhist Centre last Sunday.

Droll Karr’s Linda Diggins led mediation sessions, while psychologists spoke on methods to cope with “eco-anxiety” and how to talk to children worried about the future of their planet.

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What is stress leave and when are your employees entitled to it?


Do employees have the
right to take a leave of absence related to workplace stress? The simple answer
is yes. Work-related stress can have a significant impact on an employee’s
mental health. If workplace stress has become overwhelming and incapacitating, the
employee may be eligible for stress leave.

What counts as stress leave?

While workplace stress is
not an official category for leave from ones’ employment, it is widely accepted
that workplace stress is considered a form of illness or personal injury and is
therefore captured within the mandated 10 sick days a year. Hence all employees
do have access to paid time off for mental health days. But what about when an
employee wants to take stress leave for an extended period?

If an employee suffers
harm due to work-related stress, they can secure assistance from a health care
professional and seek an opinion as to the types of available treatment,
including an estimate on a reasonable amount of time to take away from work.

Once an employee has done
this, it is imperative that they inform you of their condition and request the
necessary time off. At this point, you can grant the employee personal time to
allow for treatment and rest.

What about worker’s compensation?

It is also possible for
an employee to make a Workers’ Compensation claim for stress. However, this can
be a more difficult way to go. An employee who claims that their stress is
work-related must be able to prove that the workplace is the only genesis of
the condition. If you believe there are other personal circumstances that are

causing or contributing to an employee’s mental health issues, these
contributing factors can be used to mitigate a claim that the stress is solely
work-related.

When an employee makes a
successful claim via the Workers’ Compensation Law, the rate at which their
compensation will be paid is dependent upon the level of their disability and
its permanence or lack thereof. In addition, if a claim is successful, the
worker will also be entitled to medical costs, including treatment and
medication.

Prevention is better than a cure

So how does one prevent succumbing to workplace stress? First, it is important to recognise how workplace stress can come about. Some of the circumstances that can cause work-related stress include:

  • Lack of proper staffing.
  • Reduced support from supervisors.
  • Overload of projects with similar due dates.
  • Inability to rely upon those to whom tasks are delegated to.
  • Ongoing technical difficulties that prevent a job from running smoothly.
  • Constant criticism from co-workers and/or superiors.
  • An inability to organise the workload.

As an employer, if you
can recognise any red flags early on, employee stress may be able to be
alleviated at a much earlier stage, preventing people from needing to take an
extended break from their jobs to recover.

Rolf Howard, Managing Partner, Owen Hodge Lawyers



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Australian school principals at risk from violence, burnout, stress and self-harm, wellbeing survey finds


Four in 10 Australian school principals have been subjected to violence at work in the past year and some are so stressed and exhausted they triggered self-harm alerts in a national wellbeing survey.

The alarming results of the annual survey prompted the authors to recommend principals only meet parents or guardians online and record the meetings to minimise conflict.

They also called for an independent taskforce to investigate violence in schools and the enormous workloads for principals.

The wellbeing survey of 2,248 school leaders by Australian Catholic University [ACU] and Deakin University found more than 40 per cent of Australian principals were threatened with violence and 38 per cent were subjected to physical violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite home learning.

Over the 10 years the survey has been conducted, the researchers found, there has been a steady increase in bullying, physical violence, threats of violence, slander, sexual and verbal harassment of principals.

And, the survey found, 97 per cent of principals worked overtime, with almost 70 per cent working more than 56 hours a week during the term and 25 hours a week during holidays.

In all states, principals reported more burnout, stress, sleeping troubles and depressive symptoms than in 2019.

Queensland principals reported the most stress and depressive symptoms for the second year in a row.

30% at risk of self-harm

Three of 10 responses to the survey triggered “red flag emails”, a system that identifies those at risk of self-harm, health problems or serious quality-of-life impacts and sends them details of support services.

ACU investigator Professor Phil Parker said the rise in violence against principals was extremely worrying.

“We’re seeing violence directed at principals at a rate of close to 10 times that of the general population,” he said.

“Even though there were school closures … the schools were open for parts of the population.”

Australian Secondary Principals’ Association president Andrew Pierpoint backed the survey authors’ call for a taskforce investigation of violence and offensive behaviour in schools.

Mr Pierpoint said workloads were a major problem for school leaders.

“You can work long hours in short bursts but not long-term,” he said.

Survey co-chief investigator, ACU Professor Herb Marsh, said the extremely long work hours and constant stress during 2020 left principals exhausted.

The main sources of stress, he said, were workloads, lack of time to focus on educating, the mental health issues of students and employer expectations.

‘My job was killing me’

A state primary school principal of 20 years, Lily [a pseudonym] said when she took sick leave from work she realised: “My job was killing me”.

Professor Parker said: “Principals are passionate about what they do, they get so much satisfaction from what they do but at the same time the sheer demands of what they do and the fact resources don’t match them, makes it so hard.”

Full-length portrait of Queensland Association of State School Principals president Leslie Single
QASSP President Leslie Single said principals felt a better sense of community amid the pandemic.(

Supplied: QASSP

)

Professor Parker said that, despite the worrying results, there were a few silver linings, including principals better balancing the competing demands of work and family.

Queensland Association of State School Principals president Leslie Single said another positive for principals amid the pandemic was a sense of a better connection with the school community.

“I certainly think that principals haven’t really returned to their normal state since COVID,” she said.

Image of St Agatha's Catholic Primary School Principal Anne-Marie Maw
St Agatha’s Catholic Primary School Principal Anne-Marie Maw said she was supported with daily check-ins from her senior leader.(

Supplied: Brisbane Catholic Education

)

Anne-Marie Maw became a principal in Brisbane just months before the pandemic hit and said her main challenge was ensuring the school community’s safety, keeping it updated and maintaining a high standard of education.

“It’s only understandable that the stress levels were there — the stress levels were everywhere because of the pandemic,” she said.

The Australian Principal Occupational, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey authors called for a major overhaul to address the health and wellbeing of school leaders, making 16 key recommendations.

As well as an independent taskforce to investigate abusive behaviour, they are urging either a reduction in job demands or an increase in resources to help principals cope with workloads.

The authors also suggest federal, state and territory governments maintain a single education budget with transparent funding, and that new strategies or policies be systematically researched before being implemented.

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Relieve Stress and Anxiety by Shifting Your Attention


 

Fear is a biologically adaptive response. If we experience something threatening—like coming across a bear or mountain lion in the woods—fear activates our fight or flight response and helps us to escape safely. But now that we have TV, internet, and smartphones showing us things to be afraid of 24-7, our fear response can quickly go on overdrive, leading to longer-term stress and anxiety.

But this extra fear does more than just stress us out. Research suggests that our worrisome thoughts can interfere with working memory and attention, such that we have a more difficult time doing whatever it is that we’re doing. Moreover, our mental energy is not bottomless, meaning that we can use it up when we attempt to do things to decrease our anxiety. As a result, we’re left mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Luckily, there are ways to short circuit and reverse this stress and anxiety cycle. By shifting our attention, we can shift our thoughts. And by shifting our thoughts, we can shift our emotions. So what exactly do we do to shift our attention in ways that ultimately relieve stress and anxiety?

1. Focus your attention away from threats

Anxiety actually makes it easier for us to detect threats but harder for us to ignore threats. On the flip side, the more we focus on threatening things, the higher our level of anxiety is likely to be. That means that our attention—or what we focus on—can contribute to upward spirals of stress and anxiety. But that’s not such a bad thing because our attention is something we have some control over. In fact, research has shown that participants who did a task that directed their attention away from threats showed decreases in anxiety that lasted at least four months. That means we may be able to decrease our anxiety by making more concerted efforts to focus our attention away from the things that make us anxious.

2. Reframe emotionally ambiguous situations

Those of us who are anxious actually see the world differently than others. When we read an ambiguous scenario, we are more likely to interpret ambiguous (unclear) situations in a negative way. For example, if I’m anxious and I hear two coworkers say my name while chatting by the watercooler, I might assume they are saying something negative about me. But if I’m not anxious, I might assume they are just talking about my work projects or even saying something nice about me. This is just one example of how our minds can turn something ambiguous into something negative.

Research has also shown that non-anxious people expect positive outcomes from an ambiguous situation while anxious people do not. So when we’re anxious, we’re wearing whatever is the opposite of rose-colored glasses. We need to take those glasses off and start reframing situations in a more positive light. Maybe that guy from work with the shifty eyes doesn’t hate us; maybe he’s just stressed out. Or maybe we won’t fail on that next assignment after all and we’ll actually do really well. By recognizing that situations may not be as bad as we think, we can start to tamp down on our anxiety.

3. Be aware of sensitivity

Anxious individuals may be more sensitive than others, at least when it comes to things that may cause fear and anxiety. For example, research shows anxious individuals can detect lower levels of fear in faces. That increased sensitivity to seeing fear expressions means it may be easier to feel the fear that others are experiencing.

Now that you know you may be more sensitive to seeing fear, you can take measures to improve your experience in these situations. Now, I’m not suggesting you avoid things you are afraid of—like heights, flying, or other phobias—avoidance can be harmful in the long run. Rather, if you’re feeling anxious among a particular group of people, excuse yourself for a moment to regroup. Or, if you expect to be triggered in a particular situation, mentally prepare beforehand or remind yourself how you’ll cope with anxious emotions that may come up. These tricks can help you manage increased sensitivity and reduce anxiety.

4. Try not to catastrophize

Catastrophizing is a thought process characterized by excessive rumination and worry that often involves imagining the worst possible outcomes occurring. Anxious individuals are more likely to catastrophize. This tendency to focus on the bad things—bad things that don’t even exist yet—can be a recipe for chronic anxiety. This type of anxiety is not even about the things that are occurring in real life; it’s about imagined things.

To quit catastrophizing, try shifting your focus to something else. It may be helpful to focus on your breath. Or, pick up a small object like a rock or pen. Name every single detail of the object. This practice can shift your focus just enough to short-circuit catastrophizing thoughts and get your anxiety in check.

5. See the good in your anxiety

All emotions—even anxiety—have important functions and benefits. Anxiety is meant to help us be more attentive to threats. Anxiety helps us survey our environment for things that could harm us or others and if we find something, our bodies respond in ways that help us thrive. This is why small amounts of anxiety actually help us increase productivity and respond more effectively to a challenging world. So try to remember, our anxiety is there to help us. And as long as we can keep it under control, it will.

This post was previously published on Psychology Today.

***

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