sitting by mountain lake

Mental Health Check In

With high levels of stress, anxiety, and other conditions that can affect mental well-being, it’s important to sometimes take an inventory of your mental health. If you are thinking about where you are on the mental wellness scale, you might want to consider doing a mental health check. The following questions may help to provide a barometer of your mood and well-being. Keep in mind, these are questions you can ask yourself or ask of someone else:

• How are you feeling mentally and physically?
• If you you’re feeling distressed or below your norm, can you identify things that will lead to you feeling better?
• How are you functioning? Are you able to accomplish the things you need to do?
• Are you meeting your needs including nourishing your body with good food and nutrients, staying hydrated, sleeping well, and getting adequate exercise?
• Are you paying attention to what your body is telling you? For example, if you feel overworked, are you slowing the pace, taking breaks, and instating boundaries as needed?
• How do you cope with stress? Do you utilize healthy mechanisms to address life’s inevitable pressures or are you coping in ways that might be harmful to your health?
• Do you feel hopeful about the future and have things that you look forward to?
• What is your support system? Do you have entrusted people you can turn to during difficult times?

If you would like to improve how you are feeling mentally, here are some ideas for engaging in good self-care, which can boost your mood:

• Reach out and connect! That might be calling an old friend or meeting up for coffee. A lot has changed during the pandemic and engaging with others or reigniting social connection might feel foreign. If that’s the case, consider ways to establish and foster positive interactions. That might be getting involved in activities within your local community such as joining a book club or participating on a trivia team. After a year of continually commencing virtually, you may be weary of online hangouts but if you are open to it, there are still many opportunities for virtual connectivity (in addition to connecting with others in-person).

• Get outside! There truly is no medicine like the outdoors. Fresh air can go a long way and help us to feel better. Even if you live in an urban area, consider visiting a local park where you can enjoy the natural resources of the earth and listen to the birds chirping. These things, while small, can provide a big mood boost.

• Keep moving! Exercise isn’t just good for physical well-being, it’s also great for mental wellness. Activity helps us to release natural endorphins and chemicals; it can be yet another way to improve your mood. Even taking a short walk can be beneficial. Exercise can also be a conduit for engaging with others. Explore opportunities that combine being active with being social. You may consider playing in a local sports league, joining a running or hiking club, or taking a yoga class.

• Look for the good, practice gratitude, and lend a helping hand. Finding meaning can go a long way! When we cultivate purpose, we feel better about ourselves. Looking for the good can be powerful ammunition for anguish and seeing the silver lining can pay dividends for your mental health. Consider things that bring you joy and look for ways to give back. For example, if you enjoy spending time with animals, think about volunteering at your local shelter. Engaging in small acts of kindness for others can be a gift not only to someone else, but to ourselves.

• Establish a rhythm without becoming complacent. Consistency can be a pathway to productivity. For example, during the past year when many people were working from home, the first meeting of the day might not have started until 10am, which could tempt some to sleep in. However, waking up at the same time and maintaining routine can be beneficial. On weekends and your occasional day off by all means, take time to relax and hit snooze but keeping a general schedule can amount to greater efficiency and productivity.

• Ask for help if you need to. It’s an old myth that asking for help is a weakness. We all will need help at some point and being open to that notion is a strength. When you have an entrusted person who you can speak to in confidence, be honest about how you are feeling. Keeping things bottled up can make challenging emotions even more of an obstacle to overcome. Opening up to someone you trust can bring about a sense of relief. 

• Practice self-compassion. Let’s face it, life can be tough. The last year has most definitely underscored that fact. We are often quick to be harder on ourselves than on anyone else. Positivity and optimism can help us to find our way out of a rut. If you are struggling or having a bad day, cut yourself some slack, as you would to someone else. Remind yourself, you are doing the best you can.

• Keep checking in with yourself and with those around you. Whether everything is going great and you feel on top of the world or if things fall into the “needs improvement” zone, take note of where you are and how you feel. If you are in a good place, think of ways that you can maintain your successes and if you need some motivation, consider what will bring you to a better place. If you feel you are at an impasse, there are resources available to help. We all experience down days and it’s important to remember that there are always brighter days ahead ☀️🌻

Cover picture courtesy of Pexels.