A Real Struggle
1st June 2023
Thanatophobia, or death anxiety, is a form of anxiety disorder that involves an intense fear of death. How a person suffers from it can vary, from extremes where it effects their life to such a degree that they are unable to live a normal existence, to having it linger in the back of your head but is controlled.
The fear of death is considered a phobia when it -
It comes every time a person thinks about dying.
It gets in the way of everyday life or relationships.
While researching this article, I spoke to people that suffer with Thanatophobia and a common thread was: The fear of nothingness, and how they will no longer exist, how there will be no difference to the world after they are dead. It seems that its this feeling that the hardest to come to terms with being here one minute and gone the next, which feeds into our natural fear of the unknown. Another common theme while gathering research seemed to be the loss of control for some sufferers as the act of dying is out of their control.
There are many causes of this phobia:
the person may have a severe illness and may be anxious about death
they may have lost a loved one and it has trigger anxious regarding death.
The role of religion where the person may feel they have not been good enough to go to heaven and will be punished eternally damnation.
A very common thread that ran through my discussions with people suffering from Thanatophobia was the death of a loved one, usually a parent. The parent dying made them confront death head on and unlocked a lot of feelings regarding what happens after death. Also, the loss of the parent tended to make the sufferer’s phobia worse. A few of the people I spoke to suffer with a wide range of illness or conditions which made them more concerned about dying early than expected again a common theme here was a fear of not being able to get enough done so the family left behind would be comfortable. It gets to the point where people are convinced, they know the age that they will die and have almost come to terms with it, so plan their life up to and around that date.
Negative aspects of Thanatophobia on your mental health are:
Escapism – people with this phobia tend to look for an escape such as drugs, alcohol, or sex with many partners to escape their thoughts of death.
Recklessness – people with this phobia tend to recklessly try and cover up how they are feeling when really, they are scared the act is a testimony to the desperateness of the situation, they feel they are facing.
Panic attacks – Hyperventilation, Breathlessness, chest pains, headaches, sweating, are symptoms of panic attacks that people can have when they are very anxious.
Trouble sleeping – many people with this phobia suffer with difficulty getting to sleep as when the house is quiet at night, they find that’s when they will think and over think about death.
When discussing this while researching having trouble sleeping was very common and many of the people I spoke to had to listen to music or podcasts to drown out any thought in their head. It worked well for some but not for others who were unable to block the thoughts out but instead blocked the pod cast or music out. Many spoke of nightmares regarding death, and which made it difficult to fall back asleep after waking up.
What was interesting about my research was that people who have death anxiety ended up doing jobs where either they worked with death, for example a doctor or a police officer where they see death every day, or studying degrees where they would be faced with death or subject like philosophy where they try to seek out the meaning of existence.
The stress and fear in Thanatophobia are more than real. Human nature has always struggled to come to terms with the fact that we cannot live forever. If you are living with this phobia, there are ways to cope through counselling.
How would counselling help?
CBT – challenging the client’s inaccurate assumptions regarding death and dying and helping them to see them in a new balanced way.
Exposure – Exercises to help the client see death as a normal part of life. Certain activities would include going to cemeteries and reading gravestones or writing your will and watching movies with death scenes in.
Working From Home
28th May 2023
Working from home can cause many issues that affect your mental health.
isolation from your work colleagues
lack of motivation
blurred lines from personal and professional space
end up over working.
If you feel you are suffering from any of the above or maybe something different that has affected your mental health since you started working from home, please give Sunflowers Counselling a call or email.
We are here to help.
Working from home – is no man an island?
The pandemic affected us all in different ways, but there was something that seemed to unite a large amount of the population… and that was working from home.
Long before the unique times of Covid-19 it was thought a mere dream for office workers to be able to forgo the stressful commute to work and simply stay in their warm houses, in their pjs and work from their laptops while watching This Morning.
That dream soon became a reality for many as lockdown hit. How long before the novelty wore off and people started craving for something more than a few minutes team talk in the morning? Did the lack of human interaction begin to affect their mental health? As no man is an island.
Humans need interaction as a rule. We are social creatures, and we need others to endure. It’s in our nature. Social interaction is essential to every aspect of our health as humans. Having strong bonds with each other is very important to our emotional wellbeing. Everyone needs social relationships to survive and blossom.
I decided to conduct my own research and send out questionnaires to office workers who now work from home. I had made a prediction before reading the results that they would be negative, and many would be suffering from depression from being isolated; but the results I received were very different.
When the 10 people were asked “Are you as productive at home as you are in an office setting?”
Answer came back such as, “I find I am much more productive at home as I am able to do household chores in my breaks, so I don’t stress about them in the evening like I did while I was in work” and “I'm more productive at home most of the time, because I don't get bothered by other people in the office asking for help.” Only one person said that they found it difficult as they found their house distracting.
Another question that was asked was “Do you ever get lonely?”
Again, a low percentage of people answered with a yes. A lot of answers stated that if they did, they don’t anymore and have now got used to their own company and much prefer it.
Many people stated that the hardest thing was not being able to switch off and the work and home environment were the same, though this seems to be the only negative that a large majority discussed.
The positives included your office never has to close. You can catch up on work early in the morning or late in the evening as you always have access to your workplace. Though seen as a positive it must be considered how healthy this is for your mental health. Although convenient with the office never closing, people may get carried away, working over hours and could lead to the overuse of screens.
The last question was “Do you think it you would be about to settle back into an office environment without issue after working from home for so long?” Again, I found the answers to be different from what I expected with most saying they wouldn’t want to go back to working in an office again. “I don't think I would ever want to work in an office environment regularly ever again”.
In summary of my research, the people have come to terms with working on their own at home. If they are saving money from commuting or buying lunch, especially in this economic squeeze. People are satisfied with a team talk via face time if it means they are able save money on childcare or be there when a package is delivered.
In conclusion the overwhelming thought that comes across from my research is that office workers have now adapted to their new circumstances, and this is now their new normal; and they are quite happy to be an island. What effects this will have on the population’s mental health in the future remains to be seen, though no one thing is certain. We never know what humans will have to adapt to in years to come, especially if companies decide to bring all the workers back to the office.