Mental health is a journey filled with many ups and downs. The warning signs of poor mental health are a hot topic on social media, in the news, and in school, but what about when you’ve beaten the downs and notice that your mental health is improving?
Mental health can be challenging, so it’s important to acknowledge the small victories and the signs of good mental health. The journey to mental well-being is a unique experience for everyone. For example, someone might celebrate the days they get out of bed, while someone else might celebrate the days they are able to sleep. Rather than focusing on signs that your mental health is struggling, you can celebrate how far you have come through these eight signs your mental health is improving.
- your sleep schedule is regulated.
Mental health has a direct impact on your sleep patterns and vice versa. Mental health issues might cause you to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or your mental struggles might cause you to stay in bed all day — the act of waking up and going on with your day may feel daunting. Whether you’re sleeping through the night, going to bed at a decent hour, or having stable sleep patterns, sleep is a good indicator of mental progress.
- your appetite is stabilizing.
Mental illnesses, stress levels, and anxiety can have an impact on your appetite levels. Though it might seem like a small feat, normal food habits are a huge accomplishment for someone dealing with mental health issues. When you find yourself having three meals a day or enjoying food that you once struggled with, that is a sign your mental health is improving.
- You’re noticing fewer poor mental health symptoms.
Though this might not be noticeable or significant to you, the slightest decrease in symptoms of mental illness is an encouraging sign of improved mental well-being. Kailey Hockridge, a licensed professional clinical counselor, tells Her Campus, “If you’re finding that symptoms that used to get in the way of how you show up in your life start to feel more manageable, that can be promising information. As our minds and bodies become more regulated and we gain confidence in our ability to cope, we may experience a reduction in symptoms.”
- You’re experiencing an overall better or positive feeling.
Happiness might seem like a universal experience or a normal feeling, but for those who have struggled with mental health in the past, it’s an indicator that your mental well-being may be on the rise. Kate O’Brien, a licensed therapist, tells Her Campus, “There’s space to feel joy. It’s not uncommon when struggling with mental health that it’s hard to find ways to feel enjoyment and fun. Does this mean that you need to always feel happy to be mentally healthy? No. But noticing it a bit more in your life may be a sign of improving mental health.”
- your ability to accept emotions has approved.
According to Health Shots, good mental health doesn’t mean that mental health issues won’t arise, instead, it means that over time, you’ve become more resilient and can process emotions better. O’Brien agrees that people often think a lack of challenging emotions indicates improved mental health, but in reality, it’s the ability to allow negative emotions and then overcoming them. For example, when you’re experiencing sadness, you don’t distract yourself through friends or try to beat yourself up for it, instead, you allow yourself to feel the emotion and acknowledge it’s only short-term pain. This can look like allowing yourself to cry if you had suppressed it in the past.
- Your relationships are stronger.
Whether you’re more open to hanging out with people or you’re establishing boundaries in friendships, stronger relationships are a tell-tale sign of your mental health improving. Before, you might have pushed your friends away or relationships might have felt exhausting, but now, you’re able to foster stable relationships, which consists of surrounding yourself with people who uplift you and reciprocate support and vulnerability.
Stronger relationships also mean an increase in empathy and connection. According to PsyCom, the ability to be empathetic is a sign of good mental health. This results in being able to connect deeper with others, which in return, adds happiness to relationships.
- you notice an increase in your motivation and engagement.
The act of accomplishing a task that used to feel tiresome for you is a huge step towards mental well-being. When your mental health is improving, you’ll find yourself feeling more motivated or engaged in activities throughout the day.
Hockridge says, “If you find yourself wanting to engage in parts of your life that you found difficult to do before, that could be a hint of a positive shift in your mental wellness. So, when you find yourself able to head to class, go out to that lunch with your friend, or go for a bike ride, you can acknowledge for yourself that any one of those things are positive if they feel good for you.”
- you’re starting to think about the future.
Sometimes, poor mental health causes you to only focus on the present and just getting through the day, but when your mental health is on the rise, your plans are future-oriented. When you find yourself making goals, seeing a positive future, and starting to get excited for what comes next in your life, it’s an indicator your mental health is improving and that is something to be proud of.
As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, now is a great time to evaluate your mental well-being and see how far you’ve come through these signs. Overcoming fears, mental struggles, or emotional burdens in your life is a huge accomplishment, which you should commend this month and every month.