TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains discussion of suicide.
September this year is Suicide Prevention month, with Sunday 10th marked as World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s a major public health problem with far-reaching social, emotional and economic consequences and it’s estimated that there are currently more than 700 000 suicides per year worldwide.
It’s a subject that I’ve personally been affected by, so over the next few weeks my blogs will be tied in to the topic. I’ll also be sharing links and resources that might be helpful at the end of this post.
We’re experiencing incredibly worrying times at the moment, with a lot of people struggling in the face of the cost of living crisis and spiralling interest rates, so I wanted sharing my top tips for managing stressful times, which have really helped me in the past.
Disclaimer: the information shared on this website and blog is intended for general knowledge purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for seeking advice from qualified mental health professionals. If you’re dealing with mental health issues, I strongly recommend reaching out to a qualified medical professional. They can provide tailored guidance based on your specific circumstances and needs.
Take care of your mental health and make self-care a priority.
Your health is your wealth, and physical and mental health go hand in hand together. When you’re not looking after one, the other will inevitably begin to suffer.
Regular listeners to the podcast will know how important my physical health is to me, and it’s one of the first ways I can tell when things are getting out of balance – when I don’t have the time for some kind of exercise first thing in my day, whether that’s a run, a swim or a proper workout. Missing one day could be forgiven, but when it starts to happen on a regular basis then it’s a real wakeup call for me that something needs to change.
Now, I don’t mean that you have to immediately start training for a marathon – that’s just going to add to your stress! But it’s important to do something. Get a routine in place and then add a little more to what you’re doing each day, if you can. It’s the power of marginal gains – small, incremental changes leading to a big and noticeable difference further down the line. You need to be patient, as you won’t see the results immediately, but give it time. Try to eat healthily, exercise, and get enough sleep. Small steps can make a big difference.
Connect with others.
Talking to people might be the last thing you want to do when you’re not feeling your best. You might feel ashamed if things aren’t going well, or that whoever you choose to speak to might dismiss or minimise your concerns (‘You think you’ve got troubles, just listen to mine!’).
But the truth is that it’s really important to connect with people at times when you’re feeling low – whether it’s a friend, a mentor, or even talking to an online community. They may not be able to solve your problems for you, but you might find someone who has had similar experiences and can offer some advice (or even just a friendly ear).
If you’re putting on a brave face because you’re worrying about what people think of you, or that you’re somehow letting them down, may feel like a good strategy, but it rarely works – the mind can distort your perspective when you’re under a lot of pressure and talking to people may help you see things from a more manageable point of view. Remember the old saying – ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’?
Be kind to yourself.
If things aren’t going well, it’s very easy to start blaming yourself for things – why didn’t I do this or that? How could I have let X, Y or Z happen? However, it’s really important that you don’t start beating yourself up over things that are outside of your control.
In life, we have three circles of influence.
The inner circle. This is you. You’re in total control of everything going on: your emotions and your behaviour.
The outer circle. Friends and family. You’re not in full control here (they may reject your views), but you do have reasonable influence over what’s going on.
The great beyond. Everyone, and everything, else. You have ZERO control here.
Focus on what you can control in your own life, and don’t worry about the rest. That’s advice I’ve given to myself over the years – it’s not helpful to spend sleepless nights over things that you aren’t able to influence. Think instead about how you react to these stressful situations: how you behave and what decisions you make based on what information you have.
Remember, it’s a blip
Continuity bias is one of those things that can really do a number on your perspective as well:
When I talk about continuity bias, I’m usually warning people about the dangers of assuming that because things are going great now, that they’ll stay that way forever. It’s one of the biggest mistakes I see people make in the Real Estate sector – not realising that property goes in cycles and that boom times won’t stay that way.
But if you’re in the midst of a stressful situation, it can sometimes feel like things are never going to get better. That’s the other side of continuity bias coming into play – but it’s important to remember that your brain is playing tricks on you. Even though things aren’t great now, it doesn’t mean that they will stay that way forever.
Remember, there is always help available. If you or someone you know is struggling, the resources below may be helpful.
In the UK:
Samaritans – https://www.samaritans.org/
Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/
Mental Health UK – https://mentalhealth-uk.org/
Samaritans Ireland – https://www.samaritans.org/samaritans-ireland/
Mental Health Ireland – https://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/
Aware – https://www.aware.ie/