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4 Signs I Need to Stop Ignoring My Mental Health Right Now

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Does anyone else think they could benefit from a six-month vacation right about now? I feel like I’m one minor inconvenience away from a full-on meltdown (or maybe this has already happened). Honestly, I’m past the standard everyday stress point, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Our world’s current state (i.e., a global pandemic, political tension, racial uprisings… to name a few things) pushes us all to utter exhaustion.

We’re taking on a huge emotional toll, and there’s no step-by-step playbook on how to survive. Because of this, I’ve found it vital to pay attention to the signals my body is sending me, both physically and mentally. My instinct in tough times is to continue to push through, ignore any evidence that my mental health needs some extra TLC, and hope things will get better, but right now, that’s not cutting it. So, instead of ignoring my body’s signals that my mental health needs some support, I’m trying to tune in. Below, I’m sharing four signs that I need to pay more attention to my mental health.

1. I have the urge to quit everything.

The desire to skip out on my job now and then and escape to a private island where someone serves me frozen drinks isn’t necessarily a mental health SOS signal. However, when I start to wish that I could avoid any responsibility, even beyond work, I know my mental health could use a little extra attention. If finding motivation for pretty much anything is hard, especially when it’s activities that I usually enjoy like cooking or FaceTiming with loved ones, it’s a telltale sign that my emotional health needs extra support.

2. I’m snapping at everyone and everything.

Ah, irritability — anyone else feeling this emotion a lot lately? Apparently, anger is a pretty common symptom of stress, and if you haven’t noticed, it’s a pretty stressful world out there. I would like to describe myself as a pretty easy going and overall cheerful person, so when I find myself snapping at everyone (and everything) around me, it’s my clue that’s something’s up.

The other day I found myself snapping at my fiancé for leaving something out on the counter, and I yelled at a package of foil when it didn’t tear correctly. You read that correctly; I got angry with an inanimate object. High levels of irritability are a huge warning sign that I might need to take some time (alone) to focus on my mental health.

3. My physical health declines.

Physical symptoms of stress are often the first to pop up as warning signs that I need to focus on mental health. It’s like my own internal fire alarm. My body loves to let me know that my mental health is at risk, from stomach issues to eye twitching. While it may seem so much easier to pop an antacid than take the emotional energy to focus on my emotions, it doesn’t solve the problem in the long run. Whether it’s one of my typical physical symptoms or something entirely out of the blue, the first question I ask myself is, “does my mental health need some love?” Not only does this help me tune into my emotional needs, but it also saves me from some panicked WebMD searches.

4. The simplest tasks feel like the biggest burden.

I’ve noticed that when my mental health is on the decline, I start to struggle with elementary and monotonous tasks that don’t usually seem like a big deal to me. I’m not referring to that occasional desire to skip your nighttime skincare routine because you’re tired. No, what I’m referencing is the thought of an “easy” task, like hanging up clothes, sending me into a meltdown, usually with plenty of tears. Eye-rolling at these tasks or even avoiding them for a while is fine, but when a full-on breakdown ensues, I know that my mental health needs some attention.

There are so many things going on right now that can wear on our mental health. Most of us, including myself, have learned to push through and ignore our mental health. However, ignoring doesn’t always lead to the best results. I’ve learned that I have a few key signs that indicate I need to pay attention to my mental health before I reach utter burnout. Listening to these signs can help me avoid a mental health crisis. In fact, I think our bodies have some pretty miraculous ways of telling us to pay attention to our mental health. We just have to be willing to make the connection.

Photo by Taya Iv on Unsplash

Originally published: November 3, 2020
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