The Importance of Help-Seeking

High Performance and Sport Psychologist Anne Marie Kennedy

Anne Marie highlighted the importance of seeking help in our recent wellbeing webinar. Anne Marie brought us through her simple traffic light system which she explained how to use as a guide for assessing how you are coping.

The green light is thriving. Everything is fine and within a normal range. 

The amber light is struggling – you need to take care here. 

The red light is alarm bells and you need to seek out some professional help. 

Anne Marie then talked us through the normal ranges of emotions so that we could learn what is deemed as normal and what is deemed as needing extra assistance. 

The different ranges are: Thriving – Managing – Struggling – ill

  1. Thriving is normal functioning, normal mood fluctuations, helpful thoughts, regular sleep patterns, balanced diet, regular exercise and feeling self-confident – no real issues there. You don’t have to have helpful thoughts 100% of the time (that’s not normal) but all within normal for you.
  2. The next category is managing, there is common and reversible distress here. There is increased worry, feeling low, sad, nervous or anxious, decreased activity (you might feel that the motivation has decreased a bit and you find it more difficult to get up and out), trouble sleeping and feeling more tired – they’re all fine. They are within the normal expectations of what we would expect to see at the moment. Everybody is going through this managing section. We are all worried – it comes and goes. We are all up and down, some days are really good, some not so good. That’s all typically normal of what you would expect right now.  Don’t think there is anything wrong because you are feeling a bit more low or sad or nervous than normal. That is still fine. What you want to do when you are feeling like this is you should reach out to that self-care piece (10 strategies for minding your mind) and social support. That is the prescription for those two categories. 
  3. The Struggling or amber category – there is significant functional impairment. What we mean by that is you may be experiencing outbursts of anger, maybe feeling more sad than usual and for prolonged periods, disturbed sleep patterns – problem getting to sleep, maybe waking up a couple of times during the night, not being able to fall back asleep or worrying when you wake up. Decreased performances, just not 100%, the effort isn’t there, the motivation isn’t there, avoidance of situations and withdrawing a bit more than usual. 
  4. Then you have the red light which is ill. This refers to some clinical disorders that you must not ignore – you need to seek help if you are experiencing any of these ones. Panic attacks, excessive or uncontrollable worry – constantly worried and the intensity doesn’t ease, constant tiredness – we all get tired but you know when the tiredness is just a bit more and it wouldn’t be normal for you, feelings of worthlessness, depressed mood -not lifting it is prolonging for a couple of days, you are avoiding people, you might withdrawing or isolating yourself more than you need to and neglecting yourself physically and mentally. They are some of the behaviours that you must not ignore. If you are struggling, ill or if you have any underlying issues like anxiety, depression or similar – this time is going to trigger that and it is going to feel more intense so you really need to be looking after yourself and be proactive about that help-seeking. If you are struggling or ill you need to seek professional support immediately. The first port of call is always a call to the GP and they can signpost wherever you need to go from there. But don’t ignore it, you don’t have to suffer alone here. There is a lot of help and support out there you just need to reach out and ask for it.