by Dr Helen M Stallman
The Power of Unpleasant Emotions
Unpleasant emotions are part and parcel of the human experience. Fear, guilt, sadness, anger, and frustration may feel uncomfortable, yet they serve a crucial purpose. Like early warning signals, they prompt us to assess potential threats, losses, or harmful actions. Recognizing that these emotions are a natural aspect of being human is the foundation for resilience—an innate to bounce back and adapt after adversity.
The Biopsychosocial Dance
The struggle against overwhelming distress is rooted in the intricate interplay of biological and social factors. Biological threats to wellbeing encompass inadequate sleep, nutrition, and physical activity, illnesses, injuries, and the side effects of treatments. Meanwhile, social threats emerge from unhealthy environments—whether physical, social, or economic—alongside isolation, insufficient support (e.g., exclusion, isolation, stigma), and limited access to effective care.
Coping for Resilience
Unpleasant emotions are by definition, unpleasant. However, they are transient—you will cope and be resilient. Coping isn’t one-size-fits-all; it’s a personal toolkit. Here’s a navigational guide for harnessing the power of coping:
- Acknowledge Unpleasant Emotions: Normalise and label these emotions for better understanding and management. Name them precisely—anger, sadness, worry—and embrace them as natural responses.
- Identify Your Support Network: Relationships with family, friends, neighbours, and even health professionals are crucial for weathering life’s storms.
- Break the Stigma: Challenge societal stigmas surrounding distress. Advocate for accessible and high-quality professional support services to break down barriers to help.
- Healthy Coping: Prioritise healthy coping strategies over unhealthy ones. The My Coping Plan app can assist in remembering these strategies when needed.
- Learn to help: Learn how to Care Collaborate Connect and be available to support your friends, family and community when they ask.
- Holistic Well-being: Understand that distress is multi-dimensional. Addressing social disparities is vital in reducing overwhelming distress and promoting community health and well-being.
As Care Collaborate Connect paves the way for a new era in suicide prevention, it encourages fostering connections, using healthy coping, and supporting one another, we’re not only rewriting the narrative around distress but also cultivating a future where well-being thrives.
Dr Helen Stallman is a leading expert in psychological wellbeing, coping and suicide prevention. Her research has explored the intersection of health and wellbeing, challenging outdated constructs and advocating for a comprehensive perspective on wellbeing.