Taking care of your mental health should always be a priority, especially during these difficult times. When nothing seems to work out, and it feels like everything is falling apart, hang on. The storm will pass soon. I offer you a map to help you navigate the storm.
Below are seven subtle signs that you need to take extra care of your mental health.
The colors have lost their luster, food no longer tastes the same, and the skies no longer shine. Okay, maybe I being a bit dramatic. But, one of the most common symptoms that your mental health is suffering is when you lost interest in things that once excited you. For example, if you usually went on runs in the morning or painted, you may no longer feel like you have enough energy to do them.
Change in routine
Another subtle sign is a change in your routine. Some people have noticed and spoken about how tiny changes in their daily routine signal an oncoming depressive episode. For me, it is my bed. I have noticed that the state of my bed correlates with my mental health. I have a habit of making my bed every morning as soon as I wake up. A made bed signals to me that the day has begun. However, on the days when I am not feeling quite like myself, my bed does not get made because I rarely have the energy to get out of bed.
Along with and sometimes because you feel dispassionate, you may begin to withdraw from others. Though we are all socially distancing, actively removing yourself from opportunities to engage with others can be a sign that your mental health is taking a nosedive. It may feel tempting to stay in our confined areas, but try to reach out to someone. Talk, or set up a Zoom lunch date. Engaging in human connection can help you feel less alone.
Another aspect that you might want to look out for is pain. Though the link between mental health and pain may not be obvious, it is a marker of deterioration. Physical pain is often an alternative expression of psychological disruption, such as depression. Studies have shown that there is a neurological link between pain and deteriorating mental health. There are overlaps between biochemical receptors responsible for mood regulation and pain; hence any alteration to these receptors could lead to increase pain and mental health deterioration.
Common areas where you might experience aches and pains are the stomach, head, joints, back. Sometimes, you might experience pain or tension in your neck and shoulders too.
We all forget things. Some may have a natural tendency or charming character trait of being forgetful. However, forgetting events or details of moments that recently occurred is a cause for concern. Forgetfulness is a sign of that your working mental capacity and your concentration is not working as it should. A study conducted in 2016 links these two factors as early signs of depression.
Everyone’s mood is susceptible to change. It is normal. However, please be cognizant if you ever feel overwhelmed or having emotional outbursts. This could be a sign that your mental health is declining. When you are psychologically distressed, your ability to regulate emotions declines. A decrease in emotional self-regulation opens the door to maladaptive rumination, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
This last sign is not so subtle. It is one of the most obvious signals of mental health deterioration. If you notice that your sleeping patterns have changed drastically, then take it as a sign of declining mental health.
This pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. There may be moments where you might feel incompetent or afraid.
Do not be alarmed if you show some of these symptoms. The points listed in this article are simple pointers to help guide you. Please reach out to a mental health professional if you are concerned or if any of the points listed above persist or worsen.
Feel free to let us know what has helped you recover your mental health.
Blanchfield, Theodora, et al. Subtle Signs You Need To Care For Your Mental Health. 12 Aug. 2019, www.talkspace.com/blog/mental-health-signs-to-seek-help/.
Compare, Angelo, et al. “Emotional Regulation and Depression: A Potential Mediator between Heart and Mind.” Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology, Hindawi, 22 June 2014, www.hindawi.com/journals/cpn/2014/324374/.
Hall-Flavin, Daniel K. “Depression Can Cause Pain – And Pain Can Cause Depression.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 3 Apr. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/pain-and-depression/faq-20057823.
Healthdirect. “Nine Signs of Mental Health Issues.” Healthdirect, Healthdirect Australia, Dec. 2018, www.healthdirect.gov.au/signs-mental-health-issue.
Joormann, Jutta, and Ian H Gotlib. “Emotion regulation in depression: relation to cognitive inhibition.” Cognition & emotion vol. 24,2 (2010): 281-98. doi:10.1080/02699930903407948