As a clinical psychologist, I find working in mental health is always challenging, never more so than in the past 18 months as parents and children have tried to navigate the pandemic. There is no doubt that for some these times have been extreme and life-changing. However, often my colleagues and I have seen adults and children worry that they have developed mental health difficulties when in reality they are highly stressed. A large part of my work recently has been to normalise their experience and help them to understand stress as a natural adjustment response to new and difficult circumstances.
Stressors cause changes in our autonomic nervous system — which controls heart rate, breathing and vision among other vital things — and triggers a