Many of us are familiar with some of the most common mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. Many can also identify some of the outward signs of these problems, or recognise changes in friends and family that might indicate a problem.
What’s more difficult is being able to recognise the symptoms in ourselves, and know when it’s time to make a change or seek help. Looking after our own mental health is just as important as being available to help others, and it’s good practice to learn how to spot you might be struggling or heading for more serious problems.
One of the most important aspects of looking after your mental health is to recognise when your mood or outlook changes, or when you start to slip into self-destructive habits. It’s also important to know that everyone’s experience of mental health is different, and you should focus on what’s normal for you.
There are lots of early signs that can be worth taking note of:
Experiencing one or several of these signs may be for any number of reasons, but you should take note of anything that you feel is different about yourself.
One way to keep track is to keep a basic diary of your moods and emotions so you can look for any patterns or changes.
Sometimes it’s possible to make changes yourself to improve your mood or deal with stress. Other times you may feel you need help, which is a good time to talk to your doctor or contact a helpline such as the Samaritans.
If you’re looking for some tips to help boost your mood or manage stress, there are a few things you can do to help:
Doing the things you enjoy and that lift your mood can really help. It’s important to make time for relaxing and having fun, whether that’s watching your favourite film, reading a book, or just having a bath. However, avoid things that have negative consequences like heavy drinking or overeating, as ultimately you’ll feel worse.
A little stress can be beneficial , but a lot of stress can easily become overwhelming and lead to many other problems. One of the most important things is to manage your time and don’t allow work stresses to spill over into general life, or let life stresses control every moment of your time. Try making lists to establish definite goals, and focus on successes rather than failures or frustrations.
Living a healthy lifestyle can help to improve mood and wellbeing, such as making time to exercise, eating healthily, and minimising alcohol intake. Make exercise something you enjoy, such as a sport or long walks, rather than forcing yourself to go to the gym if it’s not something you’d naturally do. Makin time to prepare healthy meals is also beneficial for self-esteem as well as well as the health benefits.
Being able to share what you’re feeling and dealing with can really help to release internal turmoil and tension, as well as providing bridges of support from friends and family who can know what you’re experiencing. It can be hard, but it’s worth reaching out to people you trust to talk to and seek support.
If you want to find out more about coping with mental health issues take a look at our psychiatry page.