Taking good care of your mental health is an essential aspect of your overall wellness. All too often, people tend to overlook their mental state until it deteriorates to the point where it can no longer be ignored.
Big life changes are usually the culprit behind mental health challenges. They disrupt the balance you've achieved in your life and make you feel uncomfortable. When that discomfort lasts for an extended period, you can experience elevated stress levels and other symptoms. Thankfully, you can help yourself out tremendously by learning how to deal with change in a healthy way, before it wreaks havoc on your health.
How Change Impacts Mental Health
Change has such a tremendous impact on your mental health because it is an unknown factor. Not all changes are bad. Some are quite positive, such as starting a new job or relationship, or getting the chance to travel to another country. However, your body can't differentiate between positive or negative changes. It views anything new as a threat since it draws you outside your comfort zone.
Other times, it's a physical event that impacts your mental well-being. Experiencing an illness takes a toll on both your body and your mind as you learn to cope and heal. Sometimes, physical change is a natural part of life that you must adapt to. For example, women may encounter menopause and sleep problems. The difference in hormone levels leads to both physical and mental symptoms.
Mental Illnesses and Symptoms to Watch Out For
When life changes, the first symptom is often elevated stress levels. Some people may experience anxiety or depression as well, depending on what happened. Insomnia is another common sign you are having trouble coping. When left untreated, symptoms can worsen and begin to manifest in other ways, like mood swings, social withdrawal, and even bodily symptoms such as elevated blood pressure or headaches.
Some psychologists now believe that life events play more of a role in an individual developing a mental illness than genetics do. This is why it's so crucial to recognize when you are struggling and take the right steps to get the help and support you need.
How to Handle Life Stressors to Improve Mental Health
While you can't stop change from happening, you can learn how to deal with it positively and healthily. First, address any physical problems that may be contributing to your mental health. Chronic pain, illness, and even aging can be hard to adjust to. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss any symptoms and treatment options. Alleviating physical complaints can directly impact your mood and mental state.
For the everyday events that life throws at you, learn some coping mechanisms to prevent yourself from getting upset and distracted. You could engage in healthy exercises, such as taking a long walk outside to get fresh air and clear your mind. Or, spend time working on a favorite hobby or doing something fun with a friend. Even a simple breathing technique to calm yourself and refocus on the present moment can be useful.
Sometimes stress is due to profound, and often unwanted, change. This can be an end to an important relationship, being let go from a job, or experiencing some type of trauma. It's possible to work through challenges by being self-aware, taking care of your needs, and finding someone trustworthy to talk things out. In other cases, it's best to reach out to a professional for guidance. They can help you decide on a treatment plan, so you find relief and feel better.
Everyone handles change in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to cope. The most important thing is to face what's happening and take action to feel better, whether that's by taking a break or seeking professional help.
This article was kindly written and contributed by Lewis Robinson.