Phil is a middle school counselor. At the beginning of the school year, Phil’s good friend, Jason, gets into a bad car accident. Someone runs a red light and hits Jason as he is driving through a busy intersection. As a result, Jason is hospitalized with a broken arm and leg and multiple lacerations. He is placed under observation for a possible head injury. Upon notification, Phil has an outpouring of emotions. He is sad for his friend, angry with the person who ran the red light, frustrated that he cannot make everything better. He goes to visit Jason in the hospital but does not share his feelings with Jason or anyone else. It is the beginning of the school year and there are a lot of things that have to be taken care of at work. He decides that he doesn’t have time to deal with the emotions brought on by his friend’s misfortune. He focuses on his work for the next few days visiting Jason in the hospital each night. The intensity of Phil’s feelings increases with each passing day, but he still does not reveal this to anyone. He begins to notice some sleep difficulties and a loss of appetite. Normally a regular at the gym, he skips his work out sessions at the end of the day in order to visit his friend.

On the third day after the accident, one of the teachers Phil has worked closely with for several years comes down to ask him for help with a student who is having some difficulties adjusting to school. Phil looks at the teacher and loses it: “You know what? Aren’t there more important things to worry about?! So this kid’s having a little difficulty. So what! Some things are a lot more important than a kid who can’t handle being in school!” The teacher is stunned.

By neglecting his emotional well-being, Phil is beginning to manifest new and negative behaviors in other areas of his life. This brief example illustrates how stress that manifests itself in one dimension can quickly lead to changes in other realms. This illustrates the importance of proper self-care.