Mental health is just as important as physical health, but we often aren’t taught how to check it.
It might feel strange at first, but simply asking yourself questions about how you’re feeling is the easiest way to check in with your mental health. It can help you get to know yourself better and become aware of any mental health issues so that you can get support if needed.
Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and host of the “How Can I Help?” podcast from iHeartRadio, recommends keeping a feelings journal.
“Ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10 how is your mood in terms of happy, sad, worried, calm, angry, content, et cetera,” she says. “Rating your mood each day can remind you to check in, give it some thought, see objectively that you move up or down or, as is common, fluctuate.”
Saltz suggests taking 15 minutes each day to check in with yourself about how tense your body feels, how much you’re having worried thoughts, and how much you feel mentally exhausted or sad.
“Ask yourself if these things are with you much of the day each day and if they are affecting your ability to function in any area of life.”
While doing self-checks is not an alternative to getting professional advice, it’s a good way to keep tabs on yourself so you’ll notice if and when you need other mental health resources.
If you do feel you need additional support, there are lots of resources out there.
“You can talk to friends and family, employ coping tools like exercise and deep breathing,” says Saltz, “but really it’s best to make an appointment to be evaluated by a psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist. This could be locally via a referral from your doctor, word of mouth, a therapist affiliated with your local hospital or even via telehealth if there is no one close and available.”