3 Signs That You Are About to Have a Mental Health Breakdown and What You Can Do About It

If we do not learn to manage stress correctly it can negatively impact both our mental and physical wellbeing. Prolonged periods of stress, for example, can affect our ability to digest food and sleep, while laying the foundation for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It is therefore vital that we recognize when our body is in toxic stress so we can quickly move out of the “danger zone”.

Once we are aware we are in the “danger zone” we can make stress work for us by reconceptualizing the problem and turning it into something constructive. This process of awareness and reconceptualization will allow the blood vessels around our hearts to dilate, which increases the oxygen flowing to our brains. This, in turn, increases our cognitive fluency and clarity of thought, that is our ability to not only face a challenge but overcome it. This increased blood flow also balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, allowing a number of neurophysiological and genetic processes to work for us by fueling intellectual growth. Additionally, a genetic switch will be turned on inside the hippocampus of our brains, which strengthens our bodies, allowing us to cope in a difficult situation and stay strong amid adversity.

So what are some of the signs that our brain and body is in toxic stress?

  1. Digestive Issues. Our mind and gut are interconnected, and thus happiness, joy, and pleasure, as well as anger, anxiety, sadness, and bitterness all trigger physical reactions in our digestive systems. As a result, when we are stressed we can often experience digestive issues such as a change in appetite (like craving sweets because they can boost our serotonin and make us feel better), a loss of appetite, bloating (such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS) and constipation.

So what can we do once we recognize the signs of toxic stress in our lives?

  1. Find the root cause of your stress through a process of self-reflection and self-dialogue. Stress is a symptom of something that is going on in your life. It is therefore incredibly important that you find out what is making you stressed by analyzing your thinking so you can deal with the cause. Ask yourself why you feel stressed about something, what is happening, how can you change the situation and how your mindset is affecting your ability to deal with the situation. Write down your thoughts; this can bring clarity to the situation at hand.

Mental health expert. I have spent the last 30+ years researching ways to help people manage mental health issues in school, work, and life: drleaf.com

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