Commentary: Dancing on The Emotional Jetty

MN Cars & Coffee July 2017
Photo by Randy Stern

The volume has been turned up on issues surrounding emotional health lately. But, are we listening to the message and absorbing it into our lives?

Compared to forty years ago, we seem to be absorbing the message. Social media has accelerated this issue greatly since it has become a stressor in our lives by itself. It is a mine field that we walk on gently and carefully in which a few louder voices are trying to thwart an emotional breakdown of society.

This happens far too much in the circles we walk in. Not just the absorbing and acknowledgment of these messages, but of the acts that are caused by poor emotional health that ends up in fatal conclusions.

It is a heavy subject. Heavy for the casual reader to this automotive website. You'd rather read about the newest car or the story of an older vehicle. But, look around you – and next to you. What do you see?

Someone may be hurting emotionally. Stress, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and so forth. The environments we live and work attribute to this. Even our friends, our colleagues and public figures are causes for emotional health issues.

More so today, we are faced with tower blocks to our happiness. Unless we are happy, the stressors of internal and external forces cause us to look inward for outlets. Social media is one of those outlets.

Part of my work is in social media. It is a double-edged sword. It can be rewarding, but it can also be a stressor. You worry about the mechanics and the personalities behind those mechanics. Engagement is a huge piece of the puzzle where it can be abundant and civil, or trollish and negative. One could take this work personally, which is not a professional approach to this medium.

Where it becomes a problem is how one sees and approaches social media. If we approach social media as real life, then we are indeed missing out. We have formed a vacuum in an artificial medium that replaces the physical world with a virtual one. This is where the emotional health community is working hard on trying to resolve for its clientele.

I've witnessed this too many times. Real life is a tangible thing. The keyboard is not a voice box to replace real honest feelings towards other human beings. It is not self-therapy to expound on your love or hate of anyone or anything through a smartphone, tablet device or computer. Or…is it?

A good example is a new app or website that enables anyone to anonymously state their feelings about you. This is exactly the kind of emotional health trap that social media provides. To know what someone's honest thoughts about you without identifying who they are unleashes both the writ of the troll and the cap on a person's self-esteem. This is extremely unhealthy.

How do we cope with emotional health? How do we take a breather from stress, anxiety and everything else that is upsetting our physical selves?

Driving is one form of therapy. Some say it costs less than an hour session with an emotional health specialist. But, is it worth taking a car out for a drive to shake off what's bothering you?

I had a few people say otherwise. They'll say: "You can take that drive, but when you come home – the problems will still be there." Today, you do not have to come home to face those problems. If you have your phone with you, those problems will reappear on that screen.

Plus, have you seen the quality of traffic lately? To escape from stress, you add more on with construction, heavier traffic flow, accidents and the behavior of other drivers. We mostly live in dense and vast metropolitan areas where it takes an hour to get to a road that induces therapy. It just seems that driving is counter-therapy. It is not healing.

The other form of healing is being with the people you care about the most. Whether they are blood relatives that are loving and caring or friends who have become close, they are your support through thick and thin. The key words are loving and caring. Friends who say they're friends will end not being as such. There has to be a mutual investment in those friends.

I found that the circle of friends I've run with has changed from time to time. The notion of basing friendships on a common point of shared interest is a strong one, which enabled me to have a small core of people I can rely on.

These people who are in your life are healing. With my closest car community people, I find this to be true. Pain turns into laughter. Positivity is always a plus.

What brought this all up was a recent situation that again reared its ugly head again. I'll admit that have not been fully vested in my life. It came to a head with a trip to the local emergency room to see what was up. It was simply a headache with a root cause of major stress. I felt like I wasted my time and the hospital's resources to find out what is wrong with me.

It should never take a trip to the ER to find out what's wrong in your world. But, sometimes it does take a village that can help you get through it.

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