How often do you automatically reply “I’m good” to, “How are you?”

It’s easy to override feelings of stress, exhaustion, and lack of motivation. Those feelings are part of life, right? To some degree, that’s true, but they could also be warning signs that you’re under duress and could seriously benefit from a mental health break.

These breaks can be as simple as taking a few nights at home to focus on an ever-growing to-do list, signing up for a yoga class to help unwind, or seeking professional assistance in navigating your mental health journey.

Everyone experiences mental health fluctuations. Learning to notice the warning signs is integral to managing these changes in healthy and meaningful ways.

Keep reading for 6 warning signs to be mindful of when checking in with yourself.

  1. You’re having trouble focusing on tasks.
    When daily tasks or projects that were once routine suddenly feel insurmountable due to a lack of focus, it could be a sign that your mental health is suffering. When the mind is distracted by negative thoughts, it’s very challenging to maintain the attention needed to see a task through to completion.
  2. Your relationships seem to be suffering.
    Relationships often take a nosedive when our mental health does. Are you having trouble relating to friends? Picking fights with family members without firmly understanding why? When we aren’t feeling great about ourselves, we often project these insecurities onto our friends and family. Recognize when you can no longer communicate clearly, thoughtfully, or rationally as a warning sign that something deeper is going on.
  3. You’re having physical reactions to stress.
    When your mental health suffers, issues often manifest physically, too. For example, a change in appetite is a common red flag, whether you’re eating significantly more or less than usual. Other physical warning signs include headaches, high blood pressure, digestive problems, low libido, and general aches and pains. If you tune into your physical ailments before your mental ones, they can distract from the root of the issue. So, if you do notice physical changes, it’s always important to have a doctor fully assess your mind and body.
  4. You’re overly tired or having trouble sleeping.
    Changes in your ability to fall or stay asleep can signal a shift in your mental health. Not only that, a lack of sleep can actually exacerbate a dip in your mental wellness. Bedtime is a popular time for our mind to wander to stressful topics (so much for counting sheep), and an exhausted mind has trouble using rational thinking as a means to combat negative thoughts.
  5. You feel a lack of emotion.
    Have you noticed yourself feeling numb in situations that ordinarily elicit joy or sadness? Having a lack of emotional response, whether happy or sad, isn’t normal and is most likely a sign that you need a mental health break so you can feel again.
  6. You’re self-medicating.
    A glass of red wine at the end of a long day is a nice way for many to unwind. But if you’re struggling with your mental health, drinking can be a warning sign, especially if you’ve found yourself under the influence more than usual to help tune out your feelings. It’s important to understand that alcohol and drugs won’t help you feel better. In fact, alcohol is a depressant, so it will probably make you feel worse. If you’re turning to alcohol or drugs as a crutch to numb the pain, it’s time to reach out for professional help.

Whether you’re experiencing one, some, or all of these circumstances, your mental health may need attention and care. It’s easy to shrug off a bad night’s sleep or a lack of motivation as a small nuisance, but as time goes on, these issues can build, worsen, and often lead to something way more serious.

Sign up for the YMI Survey to begin to understand your mental health and individual needs. YMI uses data science and AI to comprehensively examine a person’s past and present to measure their probability of developing certain mental conditions. This revolutionary forecasting can help you understand yourself and any potential future challenges better, so you can get a head start working through them.