Problematic Situations related to the Well-being of the Mind

Stress

Stress is familiar to many upper secondary school students. Stress means that there are challenging things happening in your life that are requiring your attention and activating your body for action. Your heart and blood circulation, lungs and respiratory system, muscles and nerves, as well as your brain are preparing for the incoming situation. Your body is preparing to act as well, fast and strongly as possible.

When the situation prolongs and the body is in a continuous state of alert and cannot unwind, the stress symptoms start to become a bother. Your sleep may become disturbed, you may feel tired and too lively at the same time, you may feel restless and hasty, you may get angry over small things and you may forget things.

When stress symptoms begin to hamper your life it is time to stop for a while.  Think about what is important and necessary for you in life and are you using your time well with those things.

Occasional stress during upper secondary education is normal and means that the things that are happening in your life have a meaning to you. If the stress prolongs and you have difficulties with grasping what is causing it, seek help.

The upper secondary schools of Turku offer a course about stress processing skills (Stressinkäsittelytaidot) where students talk about stress in small groups and practice various ways of stress management. If you would like to participate, please contact the psychologist of your upper secondary school.

Insomnia

Sometimes you may sleep badly. Usually this is temporary and after a couple of badly slept nights you will sleep normally again and repay your sleep debt. Especially stress can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep, cause you to wake up at night or wake up too early. Also intoxicants and drinks that contain caffeine can distract your sleep rhythm and reduce the quality of your sleep.

You should always try to find out what is distracting your sleep. Think about the important things in your life and if you are using your time well with these things. Think about what you would like to do, what you would like to leave out and how would that affect your life.

There are also good tips for improving the quality of sleep available that you can check out. If you sleep badly for several weeks and the common tricks do not work, seek help.

Anxiety

Sometimes things happen in life that cause you to worry. You may have lots of worries and they may pile up and wear you out. You may feel similar to as if you were under a prolonged stress and you may sleep badly. Your body prepares to confront your worries quickly and strongly, but as your troubled thinking continues, the state of alarm never subsides.

The most important thing is to recognize which of the worries are justified. The next step is to find out if you can actually do something about the worries, that is, can the worrying situations be solved. If you notice yourself worrying over the same things over and over again, seek help.

Being nervous

Being nervous is normal when:

  • we meet strange people or get to know new people
  • we arrive in new situations where we are unsure about how we should act
  • we need to appear in public to a large group of people – especially if our appearance is being judged
  • we return after an absence to a group, even if it were a familiar one
  • we are in a situation where we want to do well
  • we go into a situation where someone (e.g. hairdresser, doctor or dentist) has to touch us or conduct procedures on us
  • we go into a situation which requires preparations (e.g. dressing up for a party)

Everybody gets nervous sometimes. The same kind of physical reactions appear when you are nervous as when you are stressed; your body prepares to act as well, quickly and strongly as possible. Often it is not possible to utilize the charge of the body in situations that cause nervousness, but instead we must stay still which can make the reactions of the body feel distracting. Those reactions are still normal. Sometimes the reactions may cause you to become anxious and even panic. If your nervousness interferes with your life or limits your participation in your studies, hobbies or friendships, seek help.

The upper secondary schools in Turku organize a course called Vapaaksi jännityksestä in which students discuss in small groups and practice how to tone down nervousness in various ways. If you would like to participate, please contact the psychologist of your school.

Panic

Panic means strong and sudden fits of anxiety. You may notice in your body that your breathing quickens and becomes shallow instead of being deep and calm, your heart palpitates, you tremble and you feel nauseous and dizzy. The body reacts the way it does because it prepares for quick and strong action. However, quickening your breath makes the reactions stronger as you cannot work them off by moving.

The reactions of the body may feel scary, and thoughts about total loss of control or even becoming mad or dying may come to mind and further intensify the reactions of the body. One good way to relieve panic reactions is to consciously calm your breathing. If panic interferes with your life and you notice yourself trying to avoid situations where panic may occur, seek help.

Fears

Fear is healthy when there is a threat of danger. Fear will make you look for safety. Sometimes the feeling of fear can be distracting though you realize yourself that there is no real reason for fear. Fear can make you avoid dark, heights or vaccinations, for example. A practical method for toning down fears is the gradual exposure to things that cause fear but which are harmless, such as pictures or mental images. If fear is disturbing you and restricts your life, seek help.

Low spirits and depression

When you encounter losses or your important wishes do not become fulfilled it is normal to feel sad, disappointed and gloomy. Sadness may also come delayed after some time has already passed since the loss. It is good if you can give yourself space to grieve and experience even the painful emotions.

Sometimes the feelings of sadness and melancholy have no apparent reason. If for several weeks you feel sad, gloomy, melancholic, tired or vexed, and you do not quite feel up to participating in things that have previously been meaningful to you, such as studying, hobbies or friendships, it is time to seek help.

The upper secondary schools of Turku organize a course called Mielialataidot where students discuss moods and depression in small groups and practice various ways they can influence their mood. If you would like to participate, please contact the school psychologist.

Tiredness

Tiredness can be caused by many different things. It is good to check if you sleep enough. During a situation in life that requires energy, such as the Matriculation Examinations or relationship conflicts, it is normal to feel tired as you are burning more energy than normal to cope. Tiredness can also have to do with prolonged stress or low spirits. Sometimes tiredness has a clear somatic reason, such as anaemia or hypothyroidism. Find out what is tiring you, and if the tiredness prolongs or hinders your life, seek help.

Anger

Irritation, anger and hate are necessary feelings to experience now and then. They just say that the matter or event means something to you, and anger makes you gather your strength so that you can defend yourself or values important to you. Sometimes anger may kind of stay on and you may lose patience over very small things. Getting angry easily can be indicative of stress or being in low spirits. Sometimes flaring up can also tell you about your normal way of reacting without stress or other distractions. When you know yourself you can assess if your anger is unusual and if you should seek help. If your anger is accompanied by a risk for impulsive violence, that is, if you are afraid that you might hurt yourself or someone else, get help immediately.

Crises

Things happen in life that you do not always know how to or have the time to respond to. A crisis is a situation in which your own coping methods are hard-pressed and may not be enough. For example quarrels in important relationships, breaking up or losing a person in another way can become crises.

Also accidents, the threat of violence or experiencing violence cause crises. Sudden situations such as these where our own sense of security is being threatened will make it more difficult for us to make observations and to deal with things that are happening around and within ourselves.

Sometimes a crisis can also start from an event that you have been waiting for with a positive attitude but which turns out to require more energy and resources than you were prepared for. Moving to another area because of upper secondary school studies may be such an event.

Usually the crisis will pass with time and the events will be organized as a part of your life story. Talking to close people will help. If the crisis hinders your life and your own coping methods are not enough, seek help.

Post-traumatic stress

In an event where our sense of security is threatened our perception and ability to process thoughts change. Sometimes this causes a stress reaction which occurs only later. We do not have enough time to deal with everything that happens around and within ourselves, but instead the things will come to our minds after the situation has passed. For example a car accident, threat of violence or threat of becoming humiliated can be such events. The stress reaction can be:

  • vivid and lifelike flashbacks of the situation that come to your mind
  • nightmares and disturbed sleep
  • avoidance of situations that remind of the traumatic event
  • overactivity and flinching
  • tiredness, anger and gloom
  • feelings of detachment

Stress symptoms will usually pass with time when you feel safe enough. Talking about or analyzing the experience in some other way helps. If the stress symptoms hinder your life or the feeling of insecurity continues, seek help.

Quarrels

There are disagreements even within close relationships. Two people cannot fully agree on everything in the world. You have a right to your own opinion. If there are no disagreements, it may be a sign that the relationship is not a close one or that the other repeatedly dictates what is to be done and the other gives in.

Sometimes expressing your own opinion requires strength, especially if you suspect that the other person will get angry, disappointed or sad because of your opinion. It is possible to practice expressing your opinions clearly, kindly and without blaming the other. Disagreements can sometimes escalate into quarrels, which is a good time to take a breather from the conversation. If the quarrels include violence, seek help.

Bullying

Bullying is repetitive and deliberate. Bullying can be:

  • excluding or leaving out
  • mocking, name-calling or offensive writing
  • threats of violence or actual violence
  • messing, breaking or taking of clothes or belongings
  • misuse of an official or unofficial dominating position to hurt someone

Bullying can happen at the upper secondary school or outside of it, or on the internet. No kind of bullying should be accepted. Bullying stops on its own too rarely. If you encounter or notice bullying, seek help.

Problems with eating

Healthy ways of life, regular mealtimes and normal weight are commonly positive things. Sometimes one’s attitude towards food and exercise or pursuit of a certain kind of looks or body image may disorient the eating and exercise habits to become harmful. Binge eating or not eating at all are dangerous to your health. Seek help if you notice that binge eating, fasting, emptying your stomach or burning energy by exercise governing your thoughts and life.

Addictions

Intoxicants

Self-harm

Sometimes agony and feeling bad can make you hurt yourself by cutting or otherwise breaking the boundaries of your body. Seek help if you hurt yourself by cutting or by other means.

Thoughts about death and suicide can come to mind when your spirits are very low. When you are depressed you may feel like you just want to get out of the situation one way or another. If you think about death or suicide, seek help.

Violence

Violence and threats of violence cause feelings of insecurity. Everyone has the right to feel safe and to be physically untouchable. You never deserve to be treated violently. If you experience violence or threats of violence, seek help.

If you use violence yourself or threaten others with violence, seek help. Seeking help means that you strive to take responsibility over yourself and your behaviour.

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