This week I was told that an old friend of mine had just lost his twenty four year old son to suicide.
There are no words to express the range of emotions that accompany this unimaginable loss, either for me, but more importantly, for my friend and his family. There may be no loss greater than the suicide of your child. As a mother, I tried to understand the sheer volume of feelings, emotions, experiences and thoughts that would drive my child to such a permanent decision. There are no words. My heart aches.
It appears that the common thread that connects all suicides is the overwhelming feeling of dread, despair, lonliness and hopelessness among those who commit suicide. Additionally, depression, academic performance, workplace performance, economic standing along with other factors hold serious importance too. (1)
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. It is the 4th leading cause of death for adolescents, globally. In 2019 there were 47,511 lives lost due to suicide, while 1.4 million attempted suicide. (1)
Finding ways to cope with the hopelessness that surrounds us is a very important life skill. Being able to manage the stress and anxiety is vital for all of us. Withhout these coping skills the suicide statistics will continue to climb, and families will continue to be shattered by the unthinkable, unexpected loss of loved ones.
We all realize that during the holidays not every home is “merry and bright”, and although we sing of it being “the most wonderful time of the year”, for the “masked many”, it is not. The lights of the holiday season fail to bring the illumination needed to the dark lonliness of the “masked many”.
Let’s work together to help each other to better manage stress. K?
Here are some signs that you or a loved one may be needing stress relief: (2)
- trouble sleeping
- muscle tension
- change in appetite
- teeth grinding
If you notice these in you (or your friend) and you’ve not experienced them before, talk to a doctor, discuss the stresses in your life.
It’s important to learn to manage our stress, because stress is a part of all of our lives. We will always have to deal with it. It will look different in each life, but it always impacts our life in a negative way. Chronic stress can even lead to heart disease, memory impariment and depression.
Of course, we have seen the ways it can impact our relationships with other people, too. We have less patience with people and struggle to handle situations that we normally are able to manage.
So, here are some stress management tips: (3)
- Get to the root cause of the stress – look deep, beyond the obvious. Hone in. Evaluate what you like and don’t like about it.
- Meditate – collect your thoughts, bring them back. Center them in truth and focus them on the truth.
- Deep breathing – focus on taking deeper breaths, it slows your heart rate down and relaxes muscles. Consequently, your stress responses are slowed and your concentration improved.
- Manage your time – allow yourself breaks in the day to rest and recharge
- Consider journaling – this helps you to get your feelings out and identify things that are causing stress
- Make lists and prioritize – you may have alot to do, so write them down. But also order them, not everything is a priority. Be honest.
- Do one thing at a time – multitasking does not allow you to do your best work because you are doing too many things. Your brain does not like jumping back and forth. Allow it to focus and offer your best, then move on.
Learning to utilize these tips and tools will help, but should you find they are not helping enough, seek the assistance of a professional. They will be able to help you identify causes, and equip you with skills to manage your stress.
Take honest stock of your life or the life of your loved one. Learning how to manage stress and helping our loved ones manage stress will help to assure that no one you know has to deal with a loss due to suicide.
So, how do you manage stress? Are you managing it, or is it managing you?
Cheers to you,
- afsp.org (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)