We all know that it’s important to keep track of our physical wellness. After all, this is why we make sure to complete our annual exams, take our multi-vitamins and also why we purchase monthly gym memberships. Our bodies are our temples—the more we nourish, the stronger we are.
Physical health is tangible and is noticeable to others. But when it comes to our emotional wellness, it’s easier to hide what we experience. Are we sad inside? Do we hate our job? Are the kids driving us crazy? Not all emotions or stressors are bad of course—but depression and anxiety can really take its toll on health and are often hidden by a busy life. Poor mental health is linked to chronic disease like arthritis, asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, plus anxiety and depression can also cause sleep disorders which eventually affect physical health too.
1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year—this is a real eye-opening statistic. What can we do about it? The first step is to actually learn how to be aware of your mood and mental states. Then you can spot the warning signs.
With our busy lifestyle it’s easy to forget to be mindful of our own needs. Have you ever worked through your lunch and forgot to eat? Have you rushed to drop off the kids to school and realized you left your coffee on the roof of your car?
Mindfulness is when you slow down, take deep breaths throughout the day, and remember that life is not a race. Whether it’s anxiety you are feeling, sadness or exhaustion—take notice without judgment.
Journaling – It’s sometimes wise to journal on a daily basis so you can keep track of your emotional state. From here you will have a reference point as to what may be triggering negative moods or certain emotions. If these feelings seem to be persistent, then you can check with your doctor to see if there are other related factors that you can eliminate or improve upon. For example, if you note that anxiety arises at bedtime, there are several options that may help you get to sleep peacefully – some may be simple such as journaling, avoiding blue light, or drinking herbal tea – other options may include supplemental magnesium or even medication. Remember, it’s never a bad idea to visit your provider to help you explore the root issues of whatever it is that is giving you distress and find out what your next step toward mental and physical wellness would be.
Warning Signs of Mental Illness in Adults
It’s very important to know warning signs of mental illness. This list below is by no means a complete list and we understand every individual is different.
- Changes in sleep or appetite
- Issues with thinking or concentration
- Withdrawing from socializing
- Thoughts of suicide
- Using alcohol or drugs
- Excessive worry or fear
- Extreme mood swings
- Feelings of apathy
Stress management. Most of us feel stressed on a daily basis. Maybe you operate in a stressful work environment, or have a job that is too demanding. Maybe your family dynamic or your financial situation keep you tossing and turning at night.
Understand how you feel and why you feel this way! That would be your first step. Next step is managing the stressors. That might involve changing jobs, having a conversation with your coworkers or your boss about how you feel, having a discussion with your spouse or setting boundaries with your children. Are there any toxic family members that deprive you of all your positive energy? Do you have friends or relatives who after each interaction leave you feeling angry, frustrated and an emotional mess? Consider seeing a therapist and seek counseling on how to deal with them.
Breathing and meditation. These are extremely useful simple tools that do not require any money or professional help. Not sure where to start? Use Google and search for the words “breathing exercises for stress” or download the app “calm” on your phone. Take 5 minutes as often as you need throughout the day and practice breathing and calming your mind.
Clean up your diet. Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Avoid processed foods, fried, and fast food. Avoid high calorie drinks. Avoid caffeine if you have anxiety and replace it with green tea! Don’t give in to your food cravings – sugar causes and worsens inflammation and will make you feel good right away but it will not last and, it is definitely not the solution to your problem.
Food sensitivities can cause gut and overall total body inflammation, migraines, fogginess and tiredness. A simple test can help you steer away from possibly healthy foods that you eat regularly but are actually bad for you. Eliminating these foods can be life changing – ask friends or relatives who have done the test and resolved most of their physical and mental health issues with this simple and easy step.
Exercise daily. Any form of exercise will help release feel-good neurotransmitters, enhance your mood, bring clarity of mind, and improve your outlook on whatever situation you are dealing with. Consider yoga!
Check your hormones. Low estrogen can make you feel tired, anxious, irritable and moody. Low progesterone can make you feel depressed, irritable and angry for the 1 to 2 weeks before your period is due to start. Low testosterone makes you feel tired, unmotivated, cranky, depressed and uninterested in sex. Low thyroid can make you feel anxious and depressed as well as tired and foggy. Having an overactive or underactive adrenal gland due to acute or prolonged stress can make you feel anxious, tired but wired, can lead to sleep disturbances and weight problems. Make an appointment with your doctor and consider checking your hormones.
Whatever you may be going through, it’s crucial to know you’re not alone. There is hope and there is help.