With the holidays right around the corner, a mental health check should be a high priority item on your to-do list. Between the normal holiday stress and additional pressure from the coronavirus pandemic, the winter months will be hard for a lot of people.
Whether you have a mental health condition or not, a mental health check can make sure that you’re calm and safe through the holidays. Let’s look at how you can check in with yourself and assess whether you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health issue.
Mental Health Checks Require Honesty
Before you sit down for your mental health check, make sure that you’re ready to answer your own questions honestly. Sometimes, individuals feel pressure to “be okay” so that other people can enjoy the holidays. But if you are experiencing symptoms of mental illness, your first priority should be taking care of yourself.
Once you’ve established that you’re willing to be totally honest with yourself, explore how you’ve been feeling. We all have good and bad moments, but what has your mental state been, on average, while dealing with holiday-related stressors? Have you been feeling stressed, or are you enjoying planning for the holidays? Do you look forward to holiday gatherings, or do you dread them? The answers to questions like these can be illuminating as you consider your mental health during this vulnerable time.
Don’t focus solely on the basics like, “Am I happy,” either. It’s not uncommon to have issues identifying exactly how you feel. To this end, you could look at your behavior. Have you been making time for activities that you enjoy? Do you sleep well? Objective questions like this can help identify a mental health problem, even if you can’t quite name how you feel.
For example, someone presenting with signs of an eating disorder might not realize that they are struggling with their body image. Rather, they might notice that they feel less inclined to finish meals, or that they no longer take care of their appearance in ways that they used to. Mental health is tricky, so don’t feel discouraged if an at-home mental health screening feels difficult at first.
Learn More About Mental Health Conditions
Once you’ve undergone a mental health check and taken stock of your feelings and behaviors during the holiday season, it’s time to learn more about common mental health conditions. For many people, finding a name for their mental health issues can be comforting, as it makes them feel less alone. With that said, at-home research should never replace the guidance of a mental health professional, so take any conclusions that you reach as possibilities rather than unchanging facts.
For example, an individual who finds themselves worried that bad things will happen to them and their loved ones could face a number of mental health issues. They could be living with post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, or any number of other mental illnesses. Or they could just be going through a stressful time right now.
The goal of this step is not to definitively diagnose yourself. Instead, you should take this as an opportunity to learn more about common mental health issues and how people cope with them. Even if you don’t find the right label, you can still learn how people cope with symptoms like yours and improve your mental health during the holidays.
Seek Professional Help When Necessary
At-home mental health checks are great tools, but they can’t replace mental health experts. If you are presenting with mental health issues that impact your ability to function day-to-day, professional treatment may be exactly what you need.
Remember, you don’t need to have a label to ask for help. Instead of saying, “I have postpartum depression,” you can just say, “I’m sad and I don’t know why.” Identifying mental health conditions can be a big step in recovery, but it’s not your job to figure that out all on your own. Lean on compassionate mental health professionals, and you’ll gain the tools to take control of your mental well-being.
If you ever feel the urge to harm yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for immediate help. Or, if you’d like to explore your mental health treatment options, call our admissions specialists at 225-300-8470 or ask your questions online. When you need mental health care in Louisiana, know that Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital is ready to help.