We often go through our days or our weeks just like any other day or week. We go to work, take care of our home responsibilities, worry about finances, try to fit in time for ourselves or time with our partners, and things seem to go fairly well. Then all of a sudden you notice that you are not feeling well. You notice that you are just not yourself, you are more tired, and feel irritable. Maybe your family and friends are noticing a difference in you and you just can’t figure out what is wrong. You are not alone.
Warning signs that your mental wellness needs some TLC: (Not to be mistaken for the popular TV channel or 90’s hip hop group.. but hey if those things bring extra love and care in your life then I am not judging… I will be the first person to belt out the song Waterfalls at the top of my lungs. My mother can vouch for this… she will sing right along with me… but she believes the song is about someone named Jason Waterfalls and people asking him not to go.. hee hee).
Feeling angry or irritable more than usual
Having low energy and feeling more tired throughout the day
Eating or Sleeping too much or too little
Having unexplained aches and pains
Having persistent or unwanted thoughts
Isolating yourself and wanting to remain alone more than usual
Using alcohol or drugs as a way to cope or make it through the day
Hearing voices or having hallucinations
Feeling hopeless or helpless
Feeling a significant drop in life goals and passions
Being unable to complete the tasks you normally do regularly
Increased or heavy sweating, rapid heart rate, and rapid breathing
Trouble focusing or thinking clearly
Thinking about death more often or thinking it would be better if you were not alive
Needing to keep your space in order and blowing up at anyone and everyone when it is not in order
Feeling your heart rate increase rapidly at loud or annoying sounds
How are you treating your body?
We often let the world dictate our schedule and become overwhelmed with our to-do lists. What is the saying? “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.” I would change it to “All work and no play makes us mentally, emotionally, and often physically sick!” We have less time for home-cooked healthy meals. We have less time and less energy for exercise. On top of our lack of nutrition, we also have less time to focus on the correct supplements to help fill in the nutritional gaps we are missing. The result … we do not feel as well as we could and should feel. Here are some ideas, activities, and products to help us get back on the track of feeling better.
Go outside– allow the sun to shine on you. If you live in an area without a lot of sunshine, or if it is the winter months, you can purchase a light therapy lamp to help uplift mood.
Move your body– getting some exercise will increase your adrenaline as well as your dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters that directly affect your mood. I know you may not feel like exercising, but make yourself do some movement even for a short amount of time.
Re-frame negative thoughts– If you are like me you get into the habit of telling yourself many negative things, including but not limited to: I am too fat, I am ugly, I am not good enough, I do not deserve (Insert your thought here), I will never achieve my goals, I am not smart enough…. you get the picture. Change your negative beliefs about yourself into a positive “I Am” Statement. “I AM beautiful”, “I AM good enough”, “I AM going to reach my goals”, “I AM worthy”. Write these down and post them all over your house and read them and say them out loud EVERY DAY and see how your negative thoughts begin to change into believing how amazing you truly are!
Eat Better– I struggle with this one. I am an on the go, fast food eating, sports mom, and my nutrition is often lacking. However, when I focus on eating healthier I feel so much more energized and ready to take on my day. Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, and Broccoli are excellent courses of fiber, calcium, and potassium that help support optimal brain function. Eat nuts including walnuts, pecans, cashews, and almonds which are also excellent for cognitive function. A healthy amount of fruits, vegetables, and fats are important for your physical and mental wellness.
Supplements– Even with eating a healthy and balanced diet our body often continues to lack much-needed nutrients. Supplements including healthy B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D, 5-HTP, and fiber to name a few are important for optimal wellness. Gut health is so important to our mental wellness because our gut houses millions of dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters struggle to reach our brain when we have an unhealthy gut blocking the way.
Deep Breathing- Deep breathing from your diaphragm in a consistent rhythm does reduce your heart rate. It also allows you to calm down when anxious, worried, or afraid.
Medication– If you have tried all of the above or are feeling depressed to the point of being unable to do any of the above… medication is always an option. Medication is not something you have to take long term, but sometimes we need something extra to help us feel better. Once you begin to feel better with medication, you can do more of the above natural methods to help you continue to feel better long term.
If you continue to feel depressed, hopeless and are having suicidal thoughts please call the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255, go to your nearest emergency room, behavioral health hospital, or call a trusted family or friend to help you get help. You are not alone. Sometimes life becomes overwhelming and you are strong for too long. You are not weak for feeling depressed. The great news is you can feel better with help! If you have chronic depression or anxiety or simply need someone to talk to please seek out a counselor in your area.
-Ashley Hubbard, MS, NCC, LPC, LMHC