In the midst of hustle culture and the “pursuit of happiness,” it becomes easy to forget the true importance of contentment. In a large national survey in 2019 conducted by Cigna, 3 out of 5 (61%) people reported feeling lonely or detached as compared to 2018 where just 54% reported feelings this way. Cigna also reported that 24% of Americans reported struggling with mental health. Cigna 2019 also reports that a key determinant in the mental health of Americans is work-life balance. Poor work-life balance has had a profound effect on family and friend relationships as well as the relationship one has with oneself. Constant nervousness, sadness, and exhaustion are three common signs that you should reflect and check on the state of your wellness. So, how do you check-in on your mental health.
1. Acknowledge what you’re feeling, and accept it.
Photocred: Country Living Magazine
When we feel stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious, it’s easy to suppress these feelings upon having a goal or image in mind. However, “suppression is a way of regulating emotions that targets expressive behavior – a component of emotion with a social-communicative function. Research findings suggest that emotional suppression has the potential to undermine social functioning to a significant degree" (Srivistava; Tamir, 2014).Social functioning is defined as the ability to develop, maintain, and nurture major social relationships. So basically, when we don’t tap into our emotions, we inadvertently isolate ourselves, and this can lead to feelings of loneliness. Instead, believing that it’s okay to feel these things can make us feel more connected to ourselves. Emotions are an important part of our health and well-being. And if we are healthy, it is easier to progress forward.
2. Find what destresses and grounds you
Photocred: Cleveland Health Clinic
Learning what triggers or creates a stress, fear, or flight response is important. But, it’s also important to know what brings your calm back. Does breathing, positive affirmations, or warm memories help? Meditating and taking time to reflect on what destresses you is not only important for coping with stressful situations but also for preparing for them. Once you know how to embody a calm or focused state, it’s easier to have less of a stress response to high-pressure situations. When we’re less stressed, it’s easier to feel emotionally present and connect with others too.
3. Designate a time to turn off.
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Do you bring work back home often? And if so, do you have a stopping time? Maintaining structure and routine can help you feel more organized and in control. Having a routine can also give you more time to create healthy habits and to have “you-time.” Even if you have an ambitious personality type, you-time is very important because it gives you the time and space to feel in control despite a hectic schedule, leading to less anxiety.
4. See sleep as a key to success
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In many different situations, we’re urged to suppress sleepiness, especially if we’re in pursuit of a goal. However, sleep is actually a key to success. “Disrupted sleep is very distressing for most individuals and may have a negative impact on their quality of life. Sleep deprivation has been shown to alter performance among medical professionals and shift workers, with several studies addressing its association with depressive symptoms. Residents and medical interns often suffer from reduced sleep which may lead to neurobehavioural impairment. In one study, it was reported that medical interns with chronic sleep deprivation displayed high levels of depression and burnout over a period of one working year” (Al-Abri, 2015). Bottom line, all humans need sleep to feel and pursue happiness. Likewise, being well-rested can contribute to feelings of fulfillment, and it can give us the energy and motivation to have meaningful conversations with loved ones.
5. Do something that feels special
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Do something that releases dopamine because that is literally your happy chemical.Dopamine is responsible for allowing you to feel pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation. Treating yourself will truly make you feel more motivated in the long run. Having low levels of dopamine can lead to indifference and anxiety. So, you can do something that makes you happy just for the sake of being human, not just because you’ve completed your to-do list. Taking the time to do little things for ourselves can also help us discover what we’re passionate about.
So, if you’re feeling disconnected, take the time to reconnect with meaningful people and to re-establish what makes you feel content.