Start the New Year by Prioritizing Your Mental Health
2020 has been a challenging year for almost everyone. The emotional and mental well-being of countless people took significant hits throughout this year. From the global pandemic to civil unrest, 2020 was full of moments that were draining for so many people. In times of self-isolation, it can be hard to prioritize and care for your own mental health.
As 2020 comes to a close, many of the same issues and obstacles you currently face will not magically go away. However, the beginning of a new year is synonymous with change and rebirth. Many people take this time as an opportunity to make significant lifestyle changes to put their health first. That also includes your mental health.
Even if you don’t make New Year’s resolutions, it’s often difficult not to examine your life as a new year begins. As we approach 2021, it is time to prioritize your mental health and put your overall well-being first.
Lifeworks Counseling Center encourages everyone to care for their mental health, regardless of the time of year. For many, the start of a new year is the perfect time to do so. However, if you are in need of professional help, our team of caring and dedicated therapists are here to help. Give Lifeworks a call today.
COVID-19 and Mental Health
COVID-19 has exacerbated many mental health concerns people were already facing. From worrying about your own health to lockdowns and social distancing, people have never felt as stressed or alone. COVID-19 has amplified mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction.
JAMA ran a survey that included 1,441 respondents during the pandemic and 5,065 respondents prior to the pandemic. The survey discovered that the prevalence of depression symptoms was three times higher in those during the pandemic than before.
Furthermore, the CDC released the results of their own survey that revealed 40% of U.S. adults struggled with their mental health and substance abuse during the pandemic. 11% seriously considered suicide.
As we enter 2021, we would like to provide some useful tips to help you prioritize your mental health.
1.) Get Active
We have spoken time and time again about the mental health benefits of exercise. Inactivity tends to not only lead to chronic health conditions, but it can negatively impact your mental health, as well.
Exercise doesn’t just keep your body healthy. When you engage in physical activity, your body releases your brain’s happy chemicals, such as endorphins. These endorphins reduce your perception of pain while also triggering a positive feeling throughout your body.
Regular exercise helps boost your mood, improve self-esteem, improve sleep, reduce stress, and diminish feelings of anxiety and depression. Even working out as little as 30 minutes a day can improve your mental health.
2.) Establish Boundaries
Everyone has their own responsibilities and obligations that they must attend to on a day-to-day basis. From going to work to caring for your family, your schedule can fill up pretty quickly. Far too often, people feel like they HAVE to say yes to everything that is asked of them, regardless of if they have the time or not.
When you agree to everything, you don’t allow yourself a chance to relax and decompress. If you feel like you’re always on the go, you won’t have time to prioritize your mental health. You need to set boundaries.
Be realistic with yourself. You know what you realistically can and cannot do. Don’t overcommit to things. Give yourself time to take care of your personal responsibilities before agreeing to something new.
Also, you should never feel bad about saying no. Let people know that you’re stretched too thin and need a break. More often than not, people will understand.
3.) Engage in Self-Care
When people make New Year’s resolutions, they often do so with the thought that they can improve themselves. While there is nothing wrong with feeling that way, these feelings shouldn’t come from a place of negativity. Often, doing so might make these feelings even worse when you struggle to meet your goals.
Instead, engage in positive self-talk and self-care. There is nothing selfish or arrogant about this. In many cases, people feel self-conscious or insecure about themselves for one reason or another. Even if it is something small, find something you like about yourself and tell yourself about it.
Try your best to engage in one act of self-love every day. These acts don’t have to be huge either. They can be something as simple as taking a relaxing bath one night after a stressful week or buying yourself a new pair of shoes. Do what you need to do to relax and feel better about yourself.
4.) Create a Support System
Unfortunately, many people feel the need to shoulder the weight of their mental illness on their own. They keep their struggles to themselves without letting their loved ones know what they are going through. Keeping your mental health disorder a secret from those closest to you can do more harm than good.
On average, there is an 11-year delay between the onset of symptoms of mental illness and treatment. Often, that is because the person kept their struggles a secret. The sooner you are open about these issues, the sooner you can receive treatment. However, there is something valuable about creating a support system you can trust.
Find a loved one you trust and who you feel comfortable talking to honestly. Look for someone who is willing to listen with an open mind. You don’t need a group right away. Start with one person you trust and feel comfortable with, and then build from there.
5.) Address Your Feelings
Much like in the above passage, many people avoid dealing with their feelings. They would rather ignore them and go about their days like nothing is wrong. However, when you don’t address what’s going on in your mind, they will only build up until you get to a breaking point. Failing to face your feelings also plays into the delay in mental health treatment.
In 2021, make an effort to address your feelings head-on. Take a step back and assess how certain things make you feel. Doing so allows you to understand how you react to the world around you better, as well as helps you identify your stressors. You also become much more literate with your own emotions.
Addressing your feelings allows you to understand your mental health and how you react to certain stimuli.
6.) Reach Out to a Professional
Sometimes, one of the best things you can do to prioritize your mental health is simply contacting a mental health professional. Therapy is an excellent way to explore your emotions in-depth, identify your stressors, and receive an accurate diagnosis. Going to therapy is not a sign of weakness but is a sign of strength.
However, it’s understandable if you have anxiety about therapy. It can be an intimidating experience. Just remember that therapists are there to support you and help you navigate your emotions and mental health. The new year is an excellent time to start seeing a therapist if you are ready. Contact Lifeworks Counseling Center today and let us help you live life well again.