Saying goodbye to 2020, something we can all collectively agree on is that we need a break. It has been one of the most stressful years for many people, so it’s no surprise that our mental health suffered greatly in these circumstances. According to statistics, depression rates have possibly tripled during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, which is reason enough for all of us to take this issue seriously. Of course, the end of the year does not mean that all our problems will vanish. But it’s a great time to make a change in your life that will benefit you in the long term. Let your 2021 new year’s resolution be prioritizing your mental health and not letting stress get to you and ruin your wellbeing. Here are a few habits you should adopt in order to do so.
2020 had most of us glued to our screens more than ever before. However, the adverse effects of this are apparent. While it might not be possible to take a break from technology in the era of Zoom, you should still try to go offline from time to time. Being available at all times is not healthy, and the growing number of notifications on your phone can make you anxious. You also need to realize that you don’t need to be reading the news 24/7 and you should not feel guilty about it. We all need some me-time where we focus on ourselves instead of the screens of our smartphones – it’s the only way to stay mentally sound.
Make sure you eat healthy
You probably know that physical and mental health go hand in hand together. Therefore, to take care of yourself mentally, you also mustn’t neglect your physical needs. Make sure you don’t skip meals even when you’re busy – you will feel much more energized if you simply listen to what your body is telling you and don’t starve yourself. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet and you will not only be healthier but also feel better about yourself.
Sometimes, we need to face our own feelings and simply vent them out. Keeping your feelings bottled up and not acknowledging them will keep building up tension inside you until you can’t take it anymore. Journaling can give you the perfect vent for this. In addition, it’s also a relaxing activity that will help you blow off some steam. As little as twenty minutes of writing can improve your mood, but even if you just spend 5 minutes every morning writing it out, it can help.
Stay in touch with your friends
Our social connections are what keep us sane. This is why quarantines wreaked havoc on so many people’s mental health. So, in 2021, make an effort to stay in touch with your friends, even when you’re busy. If you find long video calls draining, a short message will also do. Even that much can give a boost to your mood and make you feel more connected. If it’s considered safe, make sure you spend some time socializing. You can still stay safe while seeing your friends, just make sure you choose activities that allow you to keep a distance.
You might already know that physical activity is one of the best ways to keep mental health problems at bay. Staying physically inactive can lead to health issues, too, so it’s more than recommended that you take up regular exercise for the sake of both your mental and physical health. Moving your muscles will stimulate your brain to release those happy hormones that will boost your mood, but it will also tire you out in a positive way so you will have a better night’s sleep. Exercise will also boost your self-esteem and make you feel better in your skin by keeping you fit. In addition, you don’t have to spend boring hours at the gym; any kind of physical exercise will do. You can try a sport, take up jogging, or visit an equipped bicycle shop and pick a model that you like. You will already be on the right path to a healthier lifestyle.
Spend time in nature
The pandemic has kept most of us inside for a long time. This kind of isolation sooner or later makes us feel alienated and stressed out. Instead of spending all your time among concrete, try to visit nature from time to time. Spending time in greenery will make you feel relaxed – it’s the power of Mother Nature we should not forget about. Take walks in a nearby park and explore your surroundings. It’s something you can do while still keeping your distance from others, if necessary. You can also combine exercise with nature to reap double the benefits. The aforementioned biking is one good way to do so, but you can also go for a jog.
Focus on tranquility
Prioritizing our mental health means doing everything we can against the harmful effects of stress. We have already mentioned exercise and spending time in nature, but some other things you could try in order to reconnect with yourself and focus on tranquility are yoga and meditation. Meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Focusing on one’s breathing and relaxing one’s body is something that anyone can try, so you have nothing to lose. In addition, meditation and yoga go hand in hand, so you are also encouraged to try yoga and cultivate your mind and body at the same time.
Seek help if you need it
Finally, we must also talk about seeking help when you need it. We have already mentioned the importance of facing your feelings and acknowledging them. It’s the first step towards healing. It’s also important that you don’t keep everything to yourself but find people you can confide in when it comes to these matters. Simply sharing your worries already takes a load off your shoulders. Talking to your friends is a good place to start, but you must not see your friends as therapists. Instead, if you believe you need it, seeking out a real therapist is what you should do. Therapy will help you understand yourself and your feelings better and see clearer solutions to your problems. Today, you can have virtual therapy sessions, so there’s nothing standing in the way of your mental health.
If you have put other people’s needs above your own for way too long, it is time your mental health took priority. Follow these pieces of advice and make sure the world can’t wreak havoc on your mental wellbeing.
Author: Lena Hemsworth