Unprecedented 2020 was a year filled with many ups and downs for all of us. We were faced with adjusting to the many changes that Covid-19 brought to our daily lives which included wearing masks throughout our day, social distancing, virtual learning for students, adults working from home, healthcare workers stretched to exhaustion, essential workers in the trenches of the day-to-day, and the stress of knowing that the coronavirus continued to spread. Although the virus is still here and the pandemic continues, 2020 is done, and with the new year comes new hope.
Looking forward into 2021, mental health continues to be one of the most important and relevant topics for ourselves and our loved ones, especially given these difficult times. for some, 2020 brought unemployment, illness, uncertainty and other trials. Most have hunkered down and spent more time at home, which may have introduced more time to enjoy cooking, watching TV, DIYing and many other at-home activities. Being cooped up all year can take a toll on anyone. Through our experience thus far, we can make 2021 the year of working on and building on positive mental health.
Mental health tips for the new year
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website may already be found in your browser’s history this year. The CDC offers valuable information, tips and research on many pressing topics in our society. Mental health issues have become more prevalent each year because of stress from social media expectations, health concerns and of course, COVID-19. It is time for you to make your New Year’s resolution focused on your mental health. Recognizing that you need to take time out of your daily life for your own well-being is the first step in the right direction.
Let someone know if you need help – Asking for help is okay. This past year was stressful for everyone, so know that you are not alone if you feel stressed, anxious or scared. Going into the new year with a fresh outlook and knowing there are people out there who can help you can help take some of the anxiety away.
Focus on taking care of your emotional health – This past year has taken an emotional toll on many individuals. Emotional health is related to your whole self. Try to start taking it day –by day instead of month by month. Take breaks throughout your day. Read a book, take up a hobby or just meditate for 10 minutes to focus on your emotional health. If you find yourself having increased feelings of anxiousness or grief and are unable to carry out normal activities and responsibilities, seek a professional’s help.
Put your phone down and turn off your television – You may have found the screen time report on your phone has increased significantly in the past year. Or maybe while working from home you have the news on your television in the background. Start off 2021 by putting your phone down and turning off your TV. Staying informed about the world is important but having it in your face 24/7 may be causing you unwanted stress. Try to focus on decreasing your screen time and increasing the time you spend doing something you love.
Connect with your family, friends and community – Due to the worldwide pandemic, there have been many social distancing guidelines and quarantine requirements in place. While you cannot spend time together with family and friends, that does not mean you can’t find other ways to communicate with those you love. Create a weekly or bi-weekly virtual call with family and friends. Reach out to an old friend from high school or college on social media. Also, this year may be a good time to help your community. Many individuals and families need hope, food and love. Research organizations in your community that you can help and give back to during this difficult time.
Take the time to care for your body – A huge component of mental health can relate to physical health, as well. If you feel sluggish, over-relaxed or slow you may start seeing a decline in your mental health. Focusing on these self-care tips for mental health can bring energy back into your life that you may have been missing out on.
Start taking an hour out of your week to do a beginner's yoga class online.
Set-up an at-home gym—even if it is in your living room. A stationary bike, treadmill, weights or even a simple jump rope can help motivate you on exhausting that built up energy that everyone has throughout the day.
Bundle up and get some crisp, fresh air and take a walk outside.
Research local exercise establishment to see if they offer online or social distanced classes.
There are many ways in which you can have good mental health, but you must take the time to find the ideal way for you. The CDC also offers advice on coping with stress during a pandemic on its website. So, begin your new year with a focus on these mental health tips, and you may start seeing positive effects on your daily life.
*The information in this article was compiled from a variety of sources and is intended to provide helpful tips only.