Deciphering the difference between poor mental health and common negative behaviors can be tricky. We all have bad days, which naturally is going to negatively impact how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. That’s simply a part of experiencing life.
However, poor mental health is different as it can affect our mind and body more drastically in the short term and long term, causing issues associated with disability, pain, and even death. That’s why understanding the difference between the two is critically important to your well-being both now and in the long run.
Fortunately, whether you believe it or not, poor mental health can be expressed through physical symptoms. So, if you’re worried about your mental health— but aren’t sure how severe the problem at hand truly is— listen up! Here are three common signs of poor mental health and what you can do to overcome it:
1. Unexplained Acne Breakouts
If you’ve been experiencing a lot of high stress lately and in that time have developed acne blemishes, this is not a coincidence. Our skin is one of the most reactive organs in our body, responding to both internal and external changes. And similar to the way it reacts to certain environmental conditions— such as the transitioning of seasons or excess exposure to the sun— your skin also responds to stress, most commonly in the form of breakouts.
When your body undergoes high levels of stress, it releases a hormone called cortisol throughout your body. In turn, this causes your body to naturally produce more sebum (oil), causing your complexion to become oilier. No matter how oily your skin may or may not be normally, there’s no denying that more sebum production can lead to clogged pores and ultimately, acne breakouts.
How to Overcome it: Start by using your skin care routine as a form of self-care and use this time to de-stress and support the needs of your skin. Get into a habit of performing your regime morning and evening for optimal downtime and protection of your skin. If your daily skin care rituals aren’t helping you combat blemishes, it may be in your best interest to switch up the products you’re using or incorporate a specialized acne treatment cream into your current routine. Doing so will make it easier for you to effectively target problem-areas and prevent further acne development.
2. Lack of Sleep
Sleep deprivation and poor mental health are closely connected. Lack of sleep can worsen your psychological state, and Harvard Health Publishing reports that those with mental health issues are more likely to struggle with insomnia or other sleeping disorders. Specifically, they note, “Sleep problems are particularly common in patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”
Even if you’re already struggling with a mental illness such as the ones listed above, a lack of sleep can increase your risk of developing a mental illness in the future and/or worsen the existing condition. By that same token, however, making an effort to alleviate the issue and attain more hours of sleep at night can work to mitigate some of the mental health concerns you may be experiencing. But what actionable steps can you realistically take to get your sleeping schedule back on track?
How to Overcome It: One of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself if you’re not getting enough sleep at night is to go to bed and wake up at the same time day in and day out. It might seem silly at first, but when you get into this habit, you’re actually working to keep your circadian rhythm— your body’s internal clock— in check, allowing you to develop a healthier sleeping schedule more quickly. To ensure you’re staying consistent in your newly found shuteye schedule, consider downloading a sleeping app . Apps like these can send you notifications when you’re nearing your bedtime as well as monitor your sleeping patterns and automatically set up your alarm clock for the morning.
3. Tension Headaches
People with poor mental health— and even those without— are commonly diagnosed with an anxiety disorder which can be characterized by restlessness, excessive worrying, and irritability. Aside from these internal affects, those who struggle with anxiety may also experience physical symptoms that they might not realize are stemming from anxiety. Tension headaches, for instance, can easily be overlooked by those who are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder because headaches are such a normally experienced physical health issue in society.
Because tension headaches tend to get mistaken for your average headache, it’s vital that you’re made aware of the physical symptoms associated with this specific type of head pain. According to an article posted on Healthline, common signs of tension headaches may include scalp tenderness, mild to moderate dull or aching pain, pressure behind the eyes, tightness in your neck or shoulder muscles, and/or pressure that feels equivalent to a band wrapped around your head. If you’ve noticed any of the following— you’re probably dealing with a tension headache on account of high anxiety levels.
How to Overcome It: With proper care, tension headaches can disappear rather quickly, but if they’re not taken care of accordingly, they can continue on for several hours or even days. With this in mind, be sure to address this problem head on by drinking plenty of water, over-the-counter pain relief medication like Tylenol, and above all, practice mindfulness. Basic self-care strategies such as coloring, journaling, reading, meditation, and more, can allow you to tap into your inner well-being and reduce anxiety.
No matter how you classify the current state of your mental well-being, remember to be on the lookout for the following physical health symptoms listed above. Use this information to help you further prioritize your health and guide you on your journey to self-love. No one knows how to take care of you the way you do, so make sure to listen to your mind and body when it’s trying to tell you something.