The pandemic has brought more focus to mental health concerns as we navigated through the disruptions of our lives and routines to adjust to those changes. However, the feelings of stress, isolation, and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic are not the only stressors that can affect our mental health as plenty of other factors can affect how you feel. With so much going on in our lives and the world at large, mental distress can seem inevitable at times. The stresses of work and family life, on top of concerns driven by events around the world, can feel begin to feel overwhelming. Learning to recognize the signs of mental distress –in yourself, your family, your friends, and your co-workers – is a great first step toward supporting mental wellbeing.
These signs may not always be easy to spot in ourselves, as we can be blind to these affects. So it is important that we pay close attention to changes in how we feel each day. If you’re not feeling like yourself, don’t ignore it. At work, your supervisor, safety professional or human resources representative can discuss options for keeping you safe and healthy. These can range from taking a break or time away to connecting with a mental health professional through an employee assistance program (EAP).
WE SHOULD MONITOR OURSELVES FOR:
Increases in alcohol or drug use
Feelings of being drained, numb, lonely or worried
Changes in appetite, sleep patterns & attitude, such as becoming argumentative or frustrated
IN OTHERS, WE SHOULD WATCH FOR:
Failure to fulfill major life responsibilities
Withdrawal from important relationships
Disclosure of exceptional stress or mental health conditions
Though these might seem obvious, it can be difficult in the moment to recognize serious signs in others. This does not require you to do anything that feels uncomfortable. Sometimes it can be helpful to just check in and listen to how someone is doing.
Emotional distress and mental health symptoms can include nervousness, depression, confusion, inability to concentrate, mood swings and anger. You are at your best when you are feeling good physically and mentally. Whether there are personal or work-related issues weighing on you, resources are available to help you improve your mental health.
There are some basic steps we can all take to help reduce our feelings of stress and anxiety:
Eat healthy foods and make time to get regular exercise
Get enough sleep each day; remember, seven hours is the recommended minimum for adults
Take time away from work when you can, even if it is just to relax at home
Utilize healthy coping mechanisms, especially by engaging in hobbies and other activities that you enjoy
Reach out to your support systems, such as family and friends, even if you can only do so digitally. They are there for you!