As we usher in Spring, so too do we usher in a renewed focus on issues of mental health. With the fear of a Swine Flu pandemic everywhere you look, it seems especially timely to discuss what many consider to be an epidemic of anxiety in our society.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric disorders and women are two to three times more likely to develop them than men. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America http://www.adaa.org, anxiety disorders “negatively influence the quality of a person’s life and can cause general deterioration in overall health and well-being.”
In this current climate amid fears about our economy, war, the safety of our planet, safeguarding our children and now swine flu; our society is more anxious than ever. Feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, and fear can be crippling for many of our clients and often the most vulnerable of them have the the least amount of support or coping skills to work through them. Helping clients learn to identify their individual signs and symptoms when they become anxious and to assist them in developing self soothing techniques through the use of deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or cognitive behavioral techniques that help clients discern the difference between anxiety provoking thoughts and actual behavior; is important so they can use these skills on their own when new challenges arise. These practices are not just important for adults. Teaching children to soothe themselves is also vitally important and will greatly improve their ability to cope in the lightening fast paced world that they’re growing up in by teaching them to have an internal locus of control which will allow them to manage their affective state even when things feel out of control around them.
So as we bring awareness to mental health concerns this month let us help our clients and ourselves to remember to stop and notice the beauty of spring, and the fragile new life that is blooming all around us this time of year. Sometimes appreciating the majesty of nature and the miracle of life in all its forms can put our day to day challenges into perspective and be all the therapy we need in those moments.