The idea of mental health can sometimes seem difficult to fully comprehend. It encompasses so many aspects of our lives and wellness we can struggle to see how they all work together. Even more significantly, we can struggle to grasp how they impact our emotional, social, mental, and physical wellness.
There can often be two extremes when it comes to considering your mental health. The first is denial that anything could be amiss. When you are operating with this thought process, and someone asks, “How is your mental health?” your immediate response is “Fine.” You don’t need to spend any time thinking about it. You simply dismiss the idea that anything could be wrong.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may feel like your mental health is in shambles and you don’t know how to fix it. If someone asks you, “How is your mental health?” you may not know how to answer that. Everything feels wrong and you have no idea how to make sense of it.
In both instances, there is room for improvement. The likely reality is that each day you fall on a shifting spectrum of feeling mentally healthy. It can depend on a variety of things. Some examples include:
The circumstances of your day.
Did something unexpected come up? Did you get caught in traffic? Is a work project more challenging than expected?
Hormones play a bigger role in our wellness than we can imagine. Typically, when people think of hormones, they think about those related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. While that is one possibility, hormones play a large role in how both men and women feel, function, and think.
The amount and quality of sleep you get.
Many people struggle to get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. Even for those that do, getting quality sleep can be a challenge. Things like dreams, bathroom breaks, children, or body temperature can interrupt restorative sleep.
Relationships in your life.
The people you are in a relationship with have an impact on your overall well-being and happiness. Sometimes relationships go well and other times, they encounter challenges. This is true for even the healthiest of relationships.
These are just a few examples of things that can impact your mental health daily.
With so many possibilities of things that factor into your mental health, it can be difficult to know how you are doing. Often people go through life pushing forward to get things done without considering how they are doing. Instead of thinking about your mental health, you may simply be trying to go to work, take care of your home, and make it through the day.
You can discover a healthier approach, and it doesn’t need to be complicated. Mental health isn’t solely about things like trauma, deep-seated issues, or mental illness. Mental health is something everyone should consider and be aware of in their lives.
Just like people should know about their physical health by getting regular physical exams, participating in exercise or activities they enjoy, and eating nutritious foods, people should actively take care of their mental health.
Questions to better understand how you’re doing.
Fortunately, taking care of your mental health can begin with the simple step of awareness. Here are some questions to give you a better idea of the state of your mental health.
When did I eat?
Many people have experienced feeling “hangry.” That describes when people get cranky or angry because they are hungry. While hunger does not always impact your feelings or emotions, it can play a role. If something feels off, consider whether you have eaten nutritious food.
Am I thirsty?
While this may seem too simple, multiple studies have shown the impact of proper hydration on mental health. Results from a 2014 research study show, “when water intake was decreased, mood was adversely affected.
The individuals who reduced their water intake were less calm, more overwhelmed, and more prone to feelings of dissatisfaction. On the other hand, individuals who continually drank an appropriate amount of water were calm and satisfied.” (Serenity)
Am I well rested?
Sleep provides your brain the time to rest and recover from the day. Adequate sleep is essential to help you mentally, physically, and emotionally. While we don’t fully understand why sleep is imperative, research shows that healthy sleep will help you function in the best way possible.
How is my hygiene?
When things are askew with our mental health, it’s easy for simple things to go by the wayside. Consider your recent bathing and hygiene habits. Are you bathing regularly? Are you taking care of your hygiene? The answers may be clues to your mental state.
When did I last go outside?
During challenging times, people tend to stay home and indoors more frequently. This is especially true if they are facing any emotional challenges. While not everyone loves the outdoors think about whether you are getting out. Have you been outside? Are you going out of your home? If you find you are staying in and avoiding going outside, it may be a red flag that something is wrong.
How much time have I been on my phone or watched TV today?
Screens are part of our daily life. While there is nothing wrong with that, people who are struggling may try to escape or avoid things by scrolling on their phones or binge-watching television shows. It is also found that screen time can impact your mental health, so more time on screens can cause your wellness to suffer. Think about how much time you’ve been using screens each day and the impact they have.
What am I thinking about today?
The thoughts you have can reveal a lot about how you are doing. This is especially true about reoccurring thoughts. If you think, for example, that you keep messing up over and over on everything you do today, that may indicate that something is going on. Pay attention to your thoughts and look for reoccurrences and connections.
Am I kind to myself?
You may be kind to everyone around you, but are you being kind to yourself? If you discover that you are not doing things you enjoy, thinking positive things about yourself, or taking care of yourself, there may be a reason. Talking to someone can help you discover if this is connected to your mental health.
How am I feeling?
It’s important to be honest with your answer to this question for it to be effective. How are you feeling today? Do you feel overwhelmed? Tired? Worried? Do you feel exhilarated? Peaceful? Neutral? Think about the ways you can describe your feelings. Go through a list of feelings and see if any of them resonate. Try words like:
The list of possibilities is long. But that’s okay. Just think about what you are feeling right now. Does that support mental health and well-being? Or is something going on that needs work?
Finding support for your mental health.
Remember, it is normal for your answers to these questions to shift each day. They may even vary over the course of your day. As you consider these answers you may benefit from some support.
Just because you feel like your answers are negative doesn’t mean there is a big problem. It does indicate that you should look at it a little more. Sometimes you can do this on your own. Other times you may need the support of a trusted friend or a professional counselor.
The Christian counselors in our office can help you understand your answers to these questions on a deeper level. As we talk, you can discover how to improve your mental health, so you feel better. Reach out to our office for support.
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