Your mental health check-in
Did you know that there is an annual World Mental Health Day? Recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and celebrated on the 10th of October every year, the day is meant to bring awareness and provide the opportunity for everyone in the mental health profession and others to create conversation around the importance of caring for your mental health.
As defined by the WHO, overall health does not merely refer to the absence of disease, but “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”. However, as physical illnesses gain awareness with global campaigns, the release of new drugs, updated treatment methods, and even improved preventative options, mental health issues remain as invisible illnesses, difficult to diagnose and treat, and still a taboo subject in society in general.
Just as your doctor recommends that you get a regular check-up such as with an annual blood test, or you yourself asking your doctor to look at physical symptoms of illness on your body, your mental health also deserves to be checked in on regularly too. Check-ups can help identify which aspects of your health you may need to work on, and if it turns out you are in good health, will at the very least confirm that you have nothing to worry about until your next check-up is due.
Wondering how to do a mental health, self-check? To start, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help identify aspects of your life where you may need a little more self-care or support.
Do you exercise regularly, and eat and sleep well?
Your physical health is directly linked to your mental health, so even if you may consider yourself a jolly person, not looking after your body can eventually affect your mental well-being. Exercise boosts feel-good hormones like serotonin, and can help boost self-esteem, improve cognitive function, and reduce stress and anxiety. And exercise doesn’t have to mean a strenuous workout; relaxing activities like walks in the park with your family and gardening can also count towards your weekly activity quota. And while you should also think about packing nutrition into balanced daily meals, exercise will even help regulate your appetite and sleep, further supporting your mental and overall health.
Are you able to manage stress well?
Whatever your profession may be, it’s normal to experience busy or stressful phases within the year. So while you can’t always avoid stress, resiliency and being able to manage your anxiety is a good sign of mental health. Among the ways you can manage your mental health in stressful periods, include
- knowing when to take breaks, which can include taking some ‘me-time’ such as to rest during the weekends, and allowing yourself pauses from your task at hand by spending a little time away from your workspace and for example utilising your lunch break to the fullest,
- knowing how to seek help, by asking people around you who you trust whether a work buddy or member of your family, and
- knowing how to manage challenging situations, such as knowing how to prioritise your tasks in terms or urgency, and staying organised as you check off your to-do list.
Are you generally optimistic and have good self-esteem?
While these values can be difficult to measure, there are ways of knowing if you have a healthy and balanced level of self-value and confidence.
- Are you able to say ‘No’ and stand up for yourself when you feel you should?
- Are you able to practically evaluate moments of disagreement, rather than blaming yourself or passively accepting blame?
- Are you able to adapt to new situations, such as challenges at work or meeting new people?
In addition to feeling comfortable with yourself and being able to maintain confidence in facing undesirable situations, working towards your own goals and spending time on your personal interests are also vital towards strengthening your self-esteem.
Are you able to talk about your feelings?
While it can be a difficult topic to bring up, sharing your feelings is an important part of mental health, and is a coping mechanism that works more often than not. Suppressing your feelings will only lead towards bottled up emotions and loneliness, as you feel you need to solve your problems yourself; while on the contrary, being heard by people who care about you will make you feel supported, and may even encourage them to open up to you as well.
Do you have healthy relationships?
Remember that social health is the third element in overall well-being, and by surrounding yourself with people who boost your positivity and support you in your goals, you are more likely to respect and care for them in return.
Instead of feeling drained by negative connections, by identifying the positive presences in your trusted circle of loved ones, your relationships should boost your sense of self and overall emotional and mental well-being.
Adapted from mental health resources including:
Mental Health Foundation, UK
Health Direct Australia
National Institutes of Health, USA