Maintaining Mental Health Awareness
Let’s face it…we don’t like talking about our mental health. It makes us uncomfortable. As women, we feel the need to hold it all together, and look good doing it! Even though society has come a long way in terms of balancing roles, we are still the nurturers in most cases. Caring not only for ourselves, but possibly a mate, children and aging parents. We can feel pulled in a thousand different directions! Stretched to the limit between career and or/ family responsibilities. We can be people pleasers, finding it hard to say “no” when others want to pile even more on our plate.
And these days, the addition of pandemic related concerns can really test our limits! Issues such as financial difficulties, uncertainty about the future, feelings of isolation, worry about loved-ones, and lack of activity. Suddenly we can hit a wall and just feel drained of energy and joy. Still we may sweep those emotions under the rug, for fear of letting others down or seeming inadequate; setting impossible expectations for ourselves, and not wanting to ask for help.
And it doesn’t help when others witness our mood changes and minimize or devalue our emotions. How unfortunate that this mentality still exists. The truth is….life is an emotional journey. We are going to feel sad when a loved one becomes ill, when our pet dies, or when our children leave for college amongst other large and small life moments. We may worry about everything from our newborn breathing normally when he is alone in his crib, to our elderly mom remembering to turn off the stove, to having enough money to pay the bills. So, we end up feeling confused, asking ourselves “Is this normal? rational? Do other women feel this way?” Sometimes we dismiss these feelings and keep plugging away without realizing taking care of our health includes mental health, keeping mental health awareness is important. Take a look at the list below, to help you sort through what you may be feeling and to recognize any signs that your mental health is struggling. And remember you are not alone! Seeking support is taking charge of your well-being.
- Excessive feelings of sadness and hopelessness- Are you consistently feeling sad and unable to see that light at the end of the tunnel? Are you crying more frequently?
- Persistent worry or fear- Are you constantly worried about current situations or what may happen in the future? Do you conjure up worst case scenarios or find it difficult to manage anxious thoughts or feelings.
- Trouble focusing or concentrating- Is it hard to follow a conversation, or stay engaged in a book or movie without your mind wandering?
- Confusion- Are you having trouble making sense of things? Are your thoughts disorganized and scattered?
- Changes in sleep habits- Are you wanting to sleep all the time? Or are you having difficulty falling and staying asleep?
- Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy- Are you lacking the energy or desire for your hobbies and usual past-times?
- Altered eating patterns- Have you lost your appetite? Or are you wanting to constantly eat for comfort?
- Extreme mood swings- Are you feeling very low at times, followed by periods of extreme highs?
- Difficulty coping with life transitions- Do you notice constant sadness or anxiety due to a divorce, becoming a caregiver, losing a job or any recent major change in your life?
- Avoiding social activities- Have you lost interest in spending time with, or talking to friends and family?
- Prolonged irritability- Do you experience frequent bouts of anger, or get angry even over minor annoyances?
- Problems perceiving reality- Are you seeing or hearing things that others do not (delusions and hallucinations)?
- Lack of self-awareness/ insight- Do you have the inability to perceive changes in our own behavior or personality? (Have others pointed this out to you?)
- Abusing substances- Are you turning to drugs or alcohol to dull your emotional pain, or escape from life’s stresses?
- Experiencing aches/ pains (physical symptoms)- Are you suffering with frequent headaches, stomach issues, muscle pain, extreme fatigue?
- Trouble carrying out daily activities- Are you overwhelmed by ordinary tasks such as laundry, cleaning, cooking or childcare?
- Preoccupation with weight and appearance- Have you become overly concerned with gaining weight or not being attractive enough?
- Suicidal thoughts- Are you preoccupied with thoughts of suicide and death? (If so, seek immediate help, call 911!)
Being aware of the signs is the first step towards healing. Seeking professional help is so important! Often times we worry about the stigma of going into therapy. We worry that we will be judged or that others will think we are fragile and weak. Nothing can be further from the truth! It is actually a sign of strength and self-care Keeping mental health awareness is making .
A good therapist will make you feel comfortable. They will partner with you to sort things out in a safe space. You and your therapist can decide on the best approach together.
In addition, there are some steps you can take to help yourself recapture the joy in your life. Try to include some of these into your day.
- Connect with others- Reach out to a trusted friend to share your feelings, or simply to catch up on life and have fun!
- Get moving- Exercise and activity can benefit both your physical and emotional well-being. Walk, ride your bike, do yard work. There are many free classes to choose from on-line, from yoga to Zumba and everything in between.
- Stick to a daily routine- Rise at the same time each day, get dressed and have a daily to-do list. Make time for meals. Even simple errands, chores, or walking the dog can make you feel productive.
- Eat healthy- Stock the fridge with lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Include some healthy protein. Drink lots of water. Food fuels energy!
- Enjoy the great outdoors- Taking a walk to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature can nourish the soul. Or go out at night and gaze at the stars.
- Nurture yourself- Take a relaxing bath, enjoy a soothing cup of tea, read an inspirational book or watch a heartwarming/ funny movie.
- Journaling- Putting your thoughts on paper can be very therapeutic. Jot down things you are grateful for…your family, your pets, your garden….anything that sparks joy.
Remember, we all feel down at times and face challenges through the ebbs and flows of life. We may also not recognize the signs that our mental health is being impacted. Be kind to yourself. There is no shame in seeking help from others. In fact, it is the opposite. Is an act of self-love. It is a gift you give yourself because you know your value, and that you deserve to live a life that brings you joy and fulfillment.
Contact me today for a free consultation to answer any questions, learn more about my approach and how individual and interpersonal therapy can help you. Maintaining mental health awareness and practicing self-care is essential! Stay connected through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest! I look forward to connecting with you! I work in New York City, New Jersey, and Florida.