When I talk about mental health, the first thing that comes to mind for me, is checking in with my anxiety levels and my depression. Those are the two things that primarily affect my mental health.
But what if you don’t have a mental illness?
Your mental health is still important and is primarily controlled by outside influences and stress.
Let’s say that you’re in perfect physical health. You still have to do things that keep you that way, right? You have to drink water, eat well, sleep, brush your teeth, and all of that regular maintenance that keeps your body working.
Your mental health is the same way. Even if you feel mentally fit, you still have to do things that keep you that way and it all boils down to self-care and stress management.
Stress has been skyrocketing over the last year and a half and it’s taken a huge toll on our collective mental health. It’s also something that we can get used to and then begin to ignore, and that just progressively makes it worse.
It’s also important to know that if your mental health is seriously affecting your everyday life, it’s okay to reach out for help. Seeing a psychiatrist or just talking to your doctor about what you’re experiencing can help. Therapy is for everyone, not just for people with mental illness. It can give you the tools to manage your stress and cope with your feelings in a healthy way, and everyone could use those kinds of tips!
So I wanted to share some signs of stress that you should look out for.
You get overwhelmed easily
One of the easiest recognized signs of stress is feeling overwhelmed. If you find yourself bursting into tears because one thing goes wrong or being a little thing is added to your to-do list – it’s time to take a step back and focus on how you got to that level of stress and how you can go down a few levels.
Stress in small amounts is good. It pushes us to get things done and complete our tasks with a sense of accomplishment afterward, but when you feel like you just ca’t handle another thing, that’s not the good kind of stress.
I didn’t know what sensory overload was. I *did* know that when I got stressed out I would A) Hate certain sounds. They would just make me feel angry. B) I did not want to be touched. Just my cats trying to cuddle me would send me to high levels of frustration.
This is called sensory overload and it basically means that your system is overloaded and needs a break.
There’s just too much happening inside and outside and your mind has had enough. The easiest way to help this (in the short term) is to focus on your five senses. You can lower the lighting with candles. You can use an eye mask. Wear noise-canceling headphones or turn down the TV. It really all depends on the things that relax you!
Your sleep is being disrupted
Insomnia can strike for a variety of reasons, but stress is frequently one of them. If you stay up late at night or have trouble falling back asleep after waking, or have continual bad dreams, stress is almost always present. Aside from leaving you tired and irritable, it can also affect you on a physical level.
The same can be said if you find yourself sleeping way more than usual. It’s your body’s way of trying to find some way to refuel when it’s under immense amounts of stress.
You are snappy and irritable
Stress lessens our tolerance to pretty much everything. Do you have a habit of snapping and then regretting it right away? Are friends and family members hesitant about approaching you sometimes?
If you answered yes, it’s probably time to take a closer look at your stress levels.