Being healthy consists of a lot more than just diet and exercise — after all, that’s why the “health trio” is mind, body, and soul. While we’re not denying the importance of physical health (which actually plays a big role in your mental health) mental health is something that gets pushed to the side all too often. In honor of World Mental Health Day, we’re sharing not just ways everyone can improve their mental health, but why it’s important to talk about it more.

Signs You May Have Anxiety

Though anxiety should always be identified by a professional, these are a few signs that you may have anxiety.

  1. Excessive worry. We all worry about things from time-to-time — like a paper due soon, or a fight you had with a friend. But if you’re noticing that you’re worrying about things that are months, if not years away, or you don’t know what you’re worrying about at all, it may be a sign of anxiety.
  2. You can’t sleep. Trouble sleeping can be caused by a number of health problems — both physical and mental. But one of the main signs of anxiety is that though your body is tired, your mind is racing. Research suggests that nearly half of all people with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) have trouble falling asleep.
  3. Tense muscles. Muscle tension can be caused by numerous things, but if you’re noticing that everyday you are clenching your jaw or balling your fists, it may be a symptom of anxiety. One of the best solutions for anxiety-induced muscle tension is exercise, meditation, and yoga.
  4. Fear of talking to others. We’ve all experienced stage fright, or that feeling of butterflies in your stomach when you’re talking to someone you don’t know. But if the fear of meeting new people is so great that it prevents you from going out and experiencing new things, it may be a sign of social anxiety.
  5. Panic attacks. While not everyone who has panic attacks also has an anxiety disorder, panic attacks are one of the most common signs of anxiety. Panic attacks typically consist of shortness of breath, a racing heart, and sweating or dizziness.

The Importance of Talking About Mental Health

Today, more than ever, people share everything — from how their diet is going to their latest fitness routine. Talking about our physical health is pretty common, but mental health is a different story. Despite the many strides forward that we’ve made as a society lately, even in 2017, it’s a bit taboo to talk about mental health. But why is that? Research shows that the more we talk about something, the more we “normalize” it. And if mental health is more normalized, the more people will be willing to reach out for and give help.

Mental Health Habits for Young People

Today, one in three people below the age of 18 suffers from a mental health issue. But people with an illness are far from the only ones who can benefit from improved mental health. After all, good mental health isn’t just defined as the absence of a mental health disorder.

  • Share your feelings with people you trust. At the first sign of anxiety, sadness, or nerves, talk to someone about it. Not only does sharing your feelings make them less of a secret, but sometimes simply talking about something out loud is all you need to do to feel better.
  • Stay active. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem, improve your sleep, and combat depression.
  • Avoid alcohol. Despite its connection to celebrations, alcohol is actually a depressant. If you’re looking to improve your mental health, limit how much alcohol you drink or stop drinking altogether.
  • Breakaway from technology. We’ll never deny loving that we have a world of information at our fingertips, but phones can be detrimental to our mental health when not used properly. People who are too “attached” to their phone or social media are more likely to report being depressed or anxious.
  • Find your flow. Are there one or two activities that you do and time feels like it just flies by? That’s referred to as “flow.” People who experience flow on a regular basis are more likely to be happy with their lives and share their passions with others.

When it’s Time for a Mental Health Day

You wake up Wednesday morning and your head is killing you, your nose is running, and you have a fever. What do you do? Odds are you said, “call out sick from work.”

But what if you woke up feeling sluggish, drained, unhappy, and anxious? Would you still call out? Odds are, you answered, “no.”

Unfortunately, mental health isn’t made as much of a priority as physical health is today — that’s not to say that we haven’t made major strides as a nation in recent years. But the idea of taking a “mental health day” is still not widely accepted or appreciated by many people.

What is a Mental Health Day?

Let’s start with what a mental health day isn’t. This isn’t a free day for you to spend laying in bed, going out to bars, or eating unhealthy food. A mental health day should be a day of recovery, improvement, and purpose. While relaxation might be a part of your recovery, you shouldn’t spend all day on the couch binging movies.

Signs You Need a Mental Health Day

Though we often compare mental health to physical health, understanding signs of mental or emotional distress are not as easy as symptoms of a physical illness. So how are you supposed to know when it’s time for a mental health day? You should take a mental health day if you:

  • Are more anxious than usual.
  • Haven’t been able to sleep for several days in a row.
  • Feel “down in the dumps” for no obvious reason.
  • Haven’t been able to focus while in school or at work.
  • Are consistently sick.

How to Spend Your Mental Health Day

Congratulations! You made the positive choice to take a mental health day and work on yourself. But now that your day off has come, do you know how to appropriately spend it? We suggest:

  • Sleeping in a little later than you usually do.
  • Reading a book.
  • Taking an exercise class or going to the gym.
  • Outlining your life goals and seeing if your current life aligns with these goals.
  • Speaking with a therapist.

Debra Solomon, founder of Spectrum Strategies has many services waiting for you. From time management and productivity workshops to individual coaching, she is an expert in her field. Debra is focused on training young adults on the Autism Spectrum to accomplish life and career goals, no matter how big or small. Call (516) 510-7637 for your one on one and let’s get you reaching for the stars!