People are constantly telling us to check in on our friends, and that is valid, especially now during a global pandemic. However, what may be less talked about and even more important is checking in on yourself. Your mental health affects everything you do, from your demeanor to your relationships to your ability to achieve your goals. It is common for people to put themselves second, but not paying attention to their thoughts and feelings is dangerous territory. You may feel you’re too busy to take the time to pause, get quiet, and get in touch with your feelings, but in the end, you will be happier and healthier for it. Waiting until you have an emotional breakdown is not the safest way to ensure your happiness. Instead, take note of your mental health now, before it gets to a point where you feel utterly hopeless and distraught. Feeling out of sorts for a few days is normal—maybe even expected—but if you are feeling symptoms of depression or anxiety for more than two weeks, it is something that needs to be addressed immediately.
The first thing you need to do is to get honest with yourself about what’s going on. Getting in touch with your feelings may be difficult, but not identifying the root cause of your symptoms will only perpetuate your struggles. When you see a friend struggling, you may ask them questions to understand what they’re going through. So, make it a priority to care about yourself in the same way. Think about the types of questions you would ask that friend. Then, try pointing those very same questions inwards. Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself:
If you are having trouble answering open-ended questions, it may help to use an online screening tool that can loosely determine the severity of your condition. Although these tools are not a diagnosis, they can aid you in figuring out whether or not you should reach out to someone for help and guidance.
Make Self-Care a Priority
Taking care of yourself cannot take a back seat. The fact of the matter is, you only have one life to live. The best thing you can do for yourself in terms of establishing good habits is to make time for yourself. Setting aside even ten minutes a day can yield a big improvement in your mental and physical health. Creating daily habits takes little time and effort but elicit big results. Try starting a gratitude journal and write down one thing that you’re thankful for each day. Or, start a regular journal, where you can reflect on your thoughts from that day. Writing by hand forces your brain to process information in a detailed and thorough manner, allowing you to reflect on events and refocus your mindset. Another way to incorporate self-care into your routine is to make time for exercise. Taking a walk outside and experiencing nature has been proven to drastically improve mood. Other things that will develop your mental and physical health are going to bed at the same time each night, eating less sugar and more whole foods, drinking enough water, and limiting screen time (if possible) to a few hours each day.
Schedule a Consultation with a Therapist
If you’re noticing changes in your mindset or behavior that are hindering your daily life, it’s safe to conclude there may be a bigger issue at play. Once you have determined that you want to talk to someone further about what you’re experiencing, it’s time to take action. Talk therapy is a great way to change behaviors and overcome problems. Many therapists are offering telehealth sessions so that you can get the help you need from the comfort of your own home. Start by requesting a free consultation to speak with a therapist and begin the journey to a happier, healthier you.