The Mental Health Continuum
We all have mental health, just like we all have physical health. The Mental health continuum represents the wide spectrum from mentally healthy OR GREEN ZONE to the mentally unwell or RED ZONE and all the areas in between. How we determine where we or others sit on the continuum is achieved by reflecting on a number of key factors.
These include Our coping mechanisms, our mood, our behaviors, our degree of connection with others, our ability to sleep and function in daily life as well as our physical symptoms.
COVID19 has disrupted many of our stable routines including work, social, exercise and community interactions. This can leave us feeling disorientated, unmotivated and more likely to experience poor mental health. It is important we check in regularly and notice whether we are closer to the GREEN or the RED zone and take action as early as possible.
The Green Zone
In the green zone we experience normal mood fluctuations, generally remain calm and take things in our stride, we can maintain a good sense of humour and can perform our daily activities of work/study/family well and feel relatively in control. We experience normal sleep patterns, are generally physically healthy, have good energy levels, are socially and physically active and have little or no alcohol/drug or gambling behaviours. You may be thinking “I can’t recall ever being in this zone” or “that sounds impossible” but this can indicate we have adapted to a “new normal” living in the yellow / orange or red zone for long periods.
The Red Zone
In the red zone we tend to experience angry outbursts, tend to be more aggressive or experience anxiety/panic attacks. We may feel out of control, may have suicidal thoughts or feel depressed as well having difficulty completing our normal daily routine, concentrate or control behavior. We may experience sleep difficulties, become physically unwell, be excessively fatigued and withdraw from social situations. In the red zone We are also much more likely to be involved in excessive alcohol consumption, gambling and other addictive mechanisms. Not a great place to be and if you are feeling like this right now then it is important you reach out and get the support you need to work back towards the green zone.
It usually doesn’t happen overnight.
You can appreciate that most of us don’t go from being in the green zone one day to red zone the next. There is often a gradual progression and warning signs along the way. The sooner we can identify we are moving in the wrong direction and out of the green zone, the easier it is to get back in the green and stay there. Unfortunately often most of us wait until we are in the orange or red zone and we, or those closest to us notice symptoms like insomnia, alcohol abuse, isolation and withdrawal before we seek help. It can take a lot of hard work, considerable support and often medical treatment to get things moving back towards the green zone.
This is why it is essential we regularly check in with how we are feeling / thinking and also what actions we are taking. We can then identify areas in our life that may be trending in the wrong direction and make some changes whilst we are still in the yellow zone. Take a HealthCi Check in right now and see how you are currently tracking. You can also get in touch with one of our Health Coaches to discuss basic lifestyle changes you can take right now that can help get your mental health back on track.
Ask for Help
If you are feeling like you are in the redzone and not sure what to do, always remember there is a way forward and there is help available. Please let someone close to you know. Reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or www.beyoneblue.org.au or contact your local GP. Whilst it can feel incredibly hard, asking for help is the first step to feeling better again. Take care and be kind to yourself.
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