Written by Ally Geist
Life gets busy. If you’re anything like me, as the semester picks up (or you’re in the middle of a particularly demanding few weeks at work) and your days get busier, you might just forget to take care of yourself. I’m the type of person who, before becoming more self-aware (thanks therapy!), would never notice that I was slipping into a not-so-great headspace until I was already there. I wouldn’t notice that I was slacking in the self-care department until I didn’t want to get out of bed, or until I started crying for no reason. I think we can all recognize that this isn’t exactly healthy, though. So, to kick off my monthly blog posts, and help y’all stay mentally healthy as we head into midterm season, I thought I would share some signs that you might need to check in with yourself. Because we’re all just human beans trying our best right? We’re in this together.
1) You’re smiling less.
I don’t know about you, but the stress of the semester always creeps up on me. The beginning of the year is great, I have all this time to catch up with friends and go on fun adventures, then I blink and I haven’t been smiling as much as I used to. Are you typically a smiley, giggly, bubbly person? Are you laughing less, going out less, and not smiling as much as you used to? It’s scientifically proven that a smile can make someone’s day better (even yours!) – if you’re noticing that you’re laughing or smiling less than you usually do, it might be an “a-ha!” moment that it’s time to rethink your self-care plan.
2) You’re feeling down, and you’re not sure why.
Everyone has bad days. Everyone has days where they wake up and just want to go right back to bed. But there’s a difference between a bad day and weeks of just generally feeling “blah”. If you haven’t been feeling yourself for several days in a row, maybe it’s time to check in with yourself and see what changes you can make to take extra good care of yourself! This might be a sign that anxiety, depression, or stress is creeping up again.
3) You’ve started thinking (more) negatively about yourself.
I often notice that I’m not doing so well, that I’ve been extra stressed lately, or that my body needs something I haven’t been giving it when I notice my thought patterns shifting. For me, personally, a lot of that manifests in negative body image. If I’m feeling really bad about my body, it’s usually an indicator that something else is going on. You know yourself best, but a thought pattern that deviates from your “normal” might be an indicator that you need to re-evaluate your situation.
4) You don’t have much of an appetite anymore.
We all know that we need food. Our bodies’ hunger cues are a huge indicator of how we are doing mentally. If you’ve been nauseous lately, if you don’t have much of an appetite anymore, or if your relationship to food has changed, this could mean that anxiety, stress, or another mental health challenge is creeping in.
5) You’re stressing about the “small stuff”.
When I am overwhelmed, I often find myself stressing about the smallest things, from the dishes I’ve left in the sink to the potentially-misplaced comma on my French paper. These things aren’t make-it-or-break-it moments in my life, yet they can be signs that I’m getting overwhelmed and need to be gentle with myself.
6) Your favourite activities have stopped being fun.
Do you usually love to play your violin, and lately you just haven’t felt like it? Have you played soccer ever week for years, and all of a sudden you’ve been skipping practices a lot? A sudden change in what you enjoy can sometimes be a clue that your mental state is changing.
7) You’ve stopped calling home.
If you are someone who calls your family regularly and you haven’t called home in a while, it might be worthwhile to check in with yourself and think about why this is the case. For me, if I’m going through a rough time, I’ll often avoid calling home because I want to be able to share good news with my family. This is a sign to me that I need to take more time to look after my needs.
8) You’re not sleeping well.
If your sleep habits have changed, this could be because of an increase in anxiety, a sign that you are ill, or that your body needs something. If you’re having trouble sleeping for several nights in a row, maybe think about modifying your schedule to minimize stress in your life.
9) You’re getting sick a lot.
Stress can affect your immune system like it’s nobody’s business. There’s a reason that everyone tends to get sick right before finals. If you’re constantly getting sick, it might be due to stress.
No matter what you are up to these days, life gets busy. But if you aren’t happy, nothing is worth it. Your health and happiness do come first, so be sure to check in with yourselves often, and take care. I’m rooting for you J