Well, it finally happened: 2020 is behind us. While our hopes remain high for a better 2021, it’s been a rocky start. It’s hard not to feel a rollercoaster of emotions when watching the news or talking to loved ones. To set yourself up for a future of wellness, put your mental health first. Here are six excellent ways to take care of your mind (and body!):
1. Make time for you.
Find time for something simple that makes you feel good once a day. Get up early to workout and get those endorphins going! Take breaks for a slow cup of coffee or tea. Start (or restart) meditating. Walk, stretch, jog, journal, read, draw, garden, build, cook, write—the possibilities are endless. Do whatever soothes your soul, even if it’s only for 5 minutes. Soon you’ll find you can’t start your day without it, and there lies the path toward inner peace.
2. Make a list of pleasures and pains.
>Take inventory of what brings you joy and what doesn’t. Don’t rush back to things in your life that you don’t enjoy. Sure, some things may be unavoidable, but you can set boundaries around those once you discover what they are. Write down what gives you hope. Write down what gives you grief. Refer back to these lists when you’re feeling lost. Then take the actions necessary to shift your lifestyle so you can focus on the positive.
3. Connect with others regularly.
Feeling isolated? Call a friend, someone you enjoy talking to. Discuss your mental health. You may find more people are willing and eager to talk about that at this time. (Plus it helps remove the stigma!) We all need to care for each other, and sharing our feelings is one way to do that. Be mindful of the other person’s feelings as you go. Remember, friendships are two-way streets.
4. Eat healthy, planned meals.
It’s so easy to snack on junk food and lose track of meal times when you’re feeling emotional, overwhelmed, or cooped up at home. This can lead to physical discomfort and sudden onsets of hunger (or “hangriness”), which affect your mood. Irregular eating is also not great for your body. Keep healthy snacks and ingredients like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains around. Set yourself reminders to eat proper meals and drink more water. It sounds simple but it makes a world of difference.
5. Turn off the tech.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, news updates, push notifications, email notifications, alerts and the like can greatly increase anxiety levels. You may be so used to them, you don’t even notice how much anxiety they’re giving you daily. Do this test: try turning your alerts off and silencing your phone during a set time period, day or night. Maybe even delete some apps and take a cold-turkey break for a few days. See how you feel. If you feel a weight has lifted off your shoulders, maybe you don’t need those things back.
6. Do something nice for someone else.
We mentioned this over the holidays, but it bears repeating. Doing something nice for someone else—without expecting anything in return—can trigger feel-good hormones in your body. So go ahead, send that birthday gift, donate to a cause you care about, be that shoulder to cry on, or offer your support to someone who needs it. You may feel warm and fuzzy afterwards.
7. Talk to a counselor.
As the saying goes, “Secure your own mask first before assisting others.” Take care of YOU. Take advantage of any extra time you have with yourself, friends and/or family. If you feel loneliness, rage, frustration, isolation, or sadness, practice taking deep breaths and letting go of those feelings. If you have trouble doing so, or find that you tend to spiral down a “rabbit hole” of negative thoughts, call us. There’s no shame in taking care of yourself. We’re here to help.