In this pandemic involving lock downs, self isolation and a deadly virus – I imagine we’ve all been doing a quick health check on each other…
“Was the cough a dry cough?”
“You did three in a row – is that persistent?”
“When you say you’re feeling hot, is that because it’s 19 degrees outside or do you have a temperature?”
However, what we may be neglecting to actually check in on, is our mental health.
Here’s a personal example…
My Dad cornered me last week, about my phone usage. I instantly reverted into teenage mode saying I wasn’t on my phone that much, and actually it’s a lock down so I’m allowed to go on it more. It was a proper Kevin The Teenage reaction, and what I failed to actually recognise was that my Dad was concerned.
I had been going on my phone more. My phones daily stats read that on average, I was using it 2 hours extra day than the previous week. I wasn’t using it for reading interesting articles… I was scrolling Facebook and Instagram and doing all those things that really aren’t great for your MH!
I eventually acknowledged that it was time to cut down. I also realised, I hadn’t been sleeping as well. I put it down to the heat, but actually it wasn’t that hot in the evenings. Poor sleep is an early warning sign for me that my mental health may be suffering.
I also started to notice, I’d been getting daily headaches. While there are several reasons this could be happening (position of my laptop screen, lack of sleep, bad lighting or stress), it was another early warning sign that I had been ignoring.
Luckily for me, I have been through this cycle enough that when I spot a few warning signs, I know it’s time to slow down and reset. I was also lucky that this all fell around the long bank holiday weekend so I didn’t have to think about work for a few days.
If you haven’t experienced poor mental health before however, perhaps it’s time to check in and think about some of the symptoms of poor mental health.
Some of them include (but are not limited to):
- Sleep or appetite changes — Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or decline in personal care
- Mood changes — Rapid or dramatic shifts in emotions or depressed feelings
- Withdrawal — Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Drop in functioning — An unusual drop in functioning, at school, work or social activities, such as quitting sports, failing in school or difficulty performing familiar tasks
- Problems thinking — Problems with concentration, memory or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain
- Increased sensitivity — Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations
- Apathy — Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity
- Feeling disconnected — A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality
- Illogical thinking — Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or “magical” thinking typical of childhood in an adult
- Nervousness — Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling
- Unusual behavior – Odd, uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior
To read more about warning signs of mental illness, you can look on the NHS website or use physciatary.org. If you do persistently recognise one or more of these signs, consult with a doctor where possible.
It’s a scary time at the moment, so look out for one another but most importantly, look after yourself! We’re all in this together team.
Lauren & The Stop The World Team x