Life likes to throw many obstacles in people’s way. You might feel an adrenaline rush while combatting each issue in your life, submitting projects before every deadline, or staying up late to do work after a full day of running errands. It’s easy to get caught up in this wave of extreme productivity. On the other hand, you may not feel inspired at all. You may find yourself lying on your couch all day, feeling anxious as another unpurposeful day passes by. Regardless of which side you are on, it can be helpful to take a step back and focus on yourself, rather than your immediate surroundings. So, here are 6 signs you need to prioritize your mental health.
1 – You have trouble concentrating
This can be a sign of physical fatigue, but it may also indicate mental and emotional stress. When the endless emails and to-do activities start to pile up, you might experience anxiety and a sense of nervousness, not knowing where to start or whether or not you may even finish the work at all. When you have trouble concentrating, shaking your head or washing your face with cold water can only get you so far. In this case, give yourself a break, even if it’s just a few minutes, where you do nothing but nap, meditate, or perform an activity that allows you to truly live in the moment.
2 – You withdraw from those close to you
It’s perfectly okay to want to have a day to yourself. As someone who needs the alone days to charge my social battery, I completely resonate. However, if you find yourself actively dodging those who care about you for long periods of time, perhaps it might help to ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you feeling insecure about a particular aspect of your life? Is there something you are hiding from others so that they won’t need to carry the burden with you? Though it may be daunting at first, try to connect with one or two of your closest friends or family members. Maybe discuss your mental health with them. You might be surprised at the amount of support and unconditional love they have for you.
3 – You feel tense
Has there ever been a time when you feel easily angered? It’s as if everything around you is triggering. A few days later, you might feel guilty for lashing out at someone, confused as to why you experienced negative emotions in the first place. Perhaps this is a sign to take a few moments to unpack your thoughts. This can be in the form of journaling, speaking to someone you trust, or postponing all of your activities for a short amount of time. Self-care activities like bathing, eating healthy, and moderate exercising can go a long way in terms of getting your mind back to a positive, inspired state.
4 – You feel depleted
After a series of events, you may feel both physically and emotionally drained. Your sleep cycle starts to change, and you might experience a constant lack of energy during the day. On one extreme, fatigue can be a symptom of depression. Tiredness is often caused by an imbalance of serotonin and dopamine, which are chemicals that are mostly released when you are in a positive mood. In addition to practicing self-care, don’t be afraid to seek out a support system. Typically, individuals who are suffering from mental illnesses don’t receive treatment fast enough because they keep their struggles a secret. Confront your mental blocks one step at a time with the aid of someone else, and your journey to recovery might go faster than expected.
5 – You are hypersensitive to criticism
Insecurity gets to the best of us, especially when we are in our most vulnerable, depleted states. If you or someone you know are reacting to suggestions and opinions more intensely than usual, it may be a good time to first, discuss your feelings with those commentators, and second, to hang out in a more positive atmosphere (maybe sleeping over at your best friend’s place for a night). When your mental health is not as optimal, your body may instinctively protect you in the form of defense mechanisms, which may explain your sensitive behaviors (and that is totally okay!)
6 – Your appetite has changed
This may not be intuitive, but a change in your diet can suggest how your mental health conditions are. Perhaps the sight of food is frequently making you sick, or you now prefer many more comfort foods over a balanced, healthy diet. According to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, a lack of appetite may be linked to an increase in stress hormones in the brain. This may mean a simple reminder to keep an eye on your mental health, or in more extreme cases, a time to seek professional help.
When your vision is blurred by the immediate issues around your life, it can feel tempting to neglect your mental health. While the immediate consequences of poor mental health may not be as evident as some other life issues, the long-term effects can be detrimental to one’s daily functioning. Thus, please take note of early warning signs and catch yourself before your mental state worsens. Finally, please remember, you don’t have to go through this alone.
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