Our guest columnist is Emily White, PhD, a Baptist Behavioral Health clinical psychologist who specializes in treating patients struggling with sleep and eating habits.
When you feel like you’re catching a cold, you probably do things to try to prevent it from getting worse. You might take vitamin C, go to sleep a little earlier or pull back on your activities.
Did you know you may be able to do the same with your mental health? Here are 5 simple questions to ask yourself to check in on how you're doing:
- Am I getting enough sleep? If you’re feeling more irritable, forgetful, anxious or depressed, better sleep habits could be the answer. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night to feel rested. Consistently getting less than this can increase your risk of developing depression or other mental health issues.
- How are my eating habits? It’s common to eat in response to emotions, especially when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Contrary to what we’d love to believe, turning to food for comfort doesn’t always improve your mood. Studies show people actually feel worse after “comfort” eating unhealthy food. Managing your hunger can help you avoid emotional eating. Aim for three healthy meals and one or two nutritious snacks each day, and don’t go more than about 4-5 hours in between meals.
- Have I moved my body today? Being active boosts endorphins, which can reduce stress, anxiety and feelings of depression. Even a few minutes of walking can help you feel calmer. If you’re not active now, start by aiming for 5-10 minutes of walking a couple of days per week.
- Have I connected with other people? We’ve all been more isolated lately, so it’s especially important to reach out to others, even if it’s on the phone or video chat. Studies show people who connected with others are less depressed and have higher self-esteem. Try to talk to at least one family member or friend each day.
- Have I taken time to unplug? The things we see online – from social media to the news – affect how we feel. Pay attention to your digital diet, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed, sad or isolated. Try setting aside one hour of technology-free time each day. Getting out in nature is a great way to destress and put things in perspective.
If you are feeling depressed, anxious or struggling with any of the issues above, Baptist Behavioral Health providers are here to help. Call 904.376.3800 to make an appointment with a mental health professional.