Four ways to recognize when stress is impacting your mental health
Times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 outbreak, racial equality demonstrations and economic challenges, can cause stress, anxiety and other mood changes. “Everyone is going to handle times of stress differently, so don’t judge yourself for how you are handling it. How you feel is how you feel,” said Geoffrey Williams, LPC, director of Prisma Health–Midlands Outpatient Behavioral Care programs. The important thing is to recognize when stress, anxiety or other mood changes are negatively affecting your daily life so you can take action.
What are some signs of poor mental health?
Williams shared four key indicators you can use to determine how you are doing in terms of your mental health.
- Poor sleep. Your overall sleep quality has decreased, and you sleep less because of difficulty falling or staying asleep.
- Appetite changes. You aren’t as hungry as usual or you find yourself eating more than usual. What you eat may also change, as the body craves carbs during stressful times.
- Mood changes. You experience prolonged, uncomfortable moods such as anxiety, sadness and irritability.
- Unhealthy relationships. You are in relationships that you find emotionally draining, argumentative or pose risk to your safety.
What can you do to manage your stress?
- Eat healthy. Eat balanced meals and stay hydrated.
- Choose healthy relationships. Be selective about your relationships and avoid negative and destructive conversations. Seek interactions that result in you feeling supported and listened to.
- Get good sleep. Not only is the quality of your sleep important, but also the amount of sleep. Try not to use electronic devices for two hours before bedtime as the bright light can interfere with your internal clock and make falling asleep difficult. Establish a routine around going to sleep that helps you relax and wind down.
- Feed your soul. During difficult times, it can be helpful to look to areas that inspire and nurture that place inside that connects to your beliefs.
- Stick to a schedule. A routine helps you stay organized in your thoughts and helps break up the day in manageable sections that allow for restoration.
- Practice meditation. A meditation practice can be a useful tool in managing stress.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Review guidelines for healthy alcohol consumption and follow them.
- Be proactive in seeking help. If things are getting worse in your ability to live life, please seek professional support.
“Everyone has mental health and it is important that you take care of yours,” said Williams.
Worried you have coronavirus?
Use our free symptom checker to help you determine your risk level and identify next steps.Check Your Symptoms