Inner signs

Are unhelpful feelings and thoughts (whakaaro) taking over your life?

Distress is when our feelings and thoughts (whakaaro) get out of control and start to take over. It’s worth having a close look at how you have been thinking or feeling lately. Have you noticed any of these changes in yourself?

Body (Tinana)


These are some of the changes you might notice yourself feeling when you’re distressed:

  • feeling like your brain won’t rest or it’s harder to think things through
  • feeling extremely unmotivated or lacking in energy
  • feeling numb and cold inside 
  • feeling restless, hōhā, moody, easily annoyed or unable to sit still.

Mind (Hinengaro)


These are some of the changes you might notice yourself feeling when you’re distressed:

  • thinking the worst about everything
  • having trouble concentrating on any one thing for very long
  • thinking that you can’t cope or get through your tasks like you could before
  • feeling hopeless
  • feeling ashamed (whakamā)
  • feeling sad (pōuri) 
  • thinking badly about yourself
  • feeling that you have lost your mana 
  • feeling nervous, anxious, on edge, or afraid something awful might happen.

Social (Whānau)


These are some of the changes you might notice yourself feeling when you’re distressed:

  • not caring about other people right now
  • not being interested in what’s going on with your whānau or friends, 
  • not wanting to be around other people
  • just wanting to be left alone.

Spirit (Wairua)


These are some of the changes you might notice yourself feeling when you’re distressed:

  • questioning why you’re here or what your purpose is in life
  • feeling life has lost its meaning
  • feeling cut off from the people and places you care about, like your whānau, friends and community
  • having worrying dreams
  • feeling a really strong need or pull to ‘go home’ but not really knowing why
  • feeling spiritually ‘unbalanced’
  • not ‘hearing’ a Nan, Koro or another ancestor (tīpuna) you normally ‘listen to’ as much
  • feeling numb or disconnected.
Person looking out window

Are you doing things differently?


Your thoughts and feelings affect the way you behave as well. You might notice some of these outer signs.

Could it be depression or anxiety?


The examples on this page cover a range of signs of distress. If you’re mainly worrying, on edge or having times of panic, it could be anxiety. If it’s more about feeling low and miserable, it could be depression. Have a closer look at the signs and symptoms for depression and anxiety.

What next

Did you notice more negativity in any particular areas of your life? It might help to focus on those areas first to help you get better. 

How to get better

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