2020 was a challenging year not only for Americans but for almost everyone. People’s mental and emotional wellbeing took significant hits throughout the year. 2020 featured several full-blown moments which drained many people’s mental state, from a series of natural disasters to the global pandemic and multiple political and social issues. Not to mention that in times of self-quarantine, prioritizing one’s mental health became more challenging than ever.
Closing the year 2020 will not magically remove all the issues and hindrances you had faced. However, you can start doing something positive in 2021 as the beginning of a new year aligns with opportunities for change and rebirth. The new year is a chance to make significant lifestyle changes and put your mental health and overall wellbeing first.
Five Ways to Prioritize your Mental Health in 2021
A recent survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 40 percent of American adults reported experiencing COVID-related mental health and other behavioral challenges. About one-third reported struggling with anxiety and depression, and almost 11 percent thought of suicide. In light of that, we have come up with five ways to maintain good mental health this year.
Practice Meditation and Yoga
Both meditation and yoga are beneficial for dealing with mental and emotional health issues. According to Mental Health America, meditation can reduce stress, a leading cause of anxiety and depression. Besides, it can also help people in the management of chronic body pain. Yoga, which goes hand in hand with meditation, is also considered a helpful aid to promote mental and emotional wellness.
You don’t have to be an expert when doing these two practices. Incorporating basic meditation and simple yoga stretches into your daily morning routine is a good kickstart.
Get Regular Exercise
Almost everyone knows how beneficial exercise is to maintain good mental and emotional health. Although inactivity tends to lead to chronic health conditions, it can also negatively impact your overall wellbeing, particularly your mental health.
Exercising daily will not only keep your physical body healthy. When you engage in any physical activities, your body releases happy chemicals from the brain, such as endorphins. These chemicals minimize your pain perception while also stimulating a positive feeling throughout your body.
For that reason, regular exercise helps boost your mood and self-esteem, improve your sleep, and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. According to the Help Guide, regular exercise can positively impact anxiety, depression, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
People who exercise regularly, even as short as 30 minutes a day, improve mental health, and have a better sense of wellbeing.
Create Your Support System
Unfortunately, many people suffering from anxiety and depression choose to carry all the weight of their mental illness on their own rather than sharing it with others. They tend to keep their problems to themselves without letting their loved ones know what struggles they are going through. Sometimes they even release it by consuming drugs. However, keeping your mental health problems a secret from your loved ones and using substances can cause more harm than good.
On average, there is an 11-year delay between the onset of mental health symptoms and treatment. The main reason for this is people keeping their struggles a secret. The sooner you open up about these issues to trusted friends and loved ones, the sooner you can get treatment. Building a trusted support system can make a big difference.
Having a loved one you trust and feel comfortable talking to can save you. You don’t have to develop a whole group right away. Just someone willing to listen with an open mind is a good start to building a support system.
Express Emotions through Writing
Many people avoid dealing with their feelings. They brush them away and continue with their lives, pretending that nothing is wrong. However, avoiding your problems and not immediately addressing what’s bothering you will only build in your mind until it reaches the breaking point.
In 2021, making an effort to express and face your feelings head-on will make a huge change in your life. By writing it down, you can assess how things make you feel. You don’t have to make it a daily habit, but writing down your thoughts and feelings in your spare time or after a devastating week can help you understand and address them more effectively. Doing so will allow you to understand yourself better and help you identify your stressors. You also become much more literate with your feelings and thoughts. Journaling will help you gain control over your emotions, improving your mental health.
Seek Professional Help
With everything you dealt with in 2020, seeing a professional might be a good idea. The new year is an excellent time to seek professional help, be it an addiction counselor, life coach, or mental health therapist. There’s nothing to be afraid of consulting a professional. Going to therapy is not a sign of weakness but strength.
Sometimes your problems are too big to handle on your own, particularly if they happen all at once. One of the best things you can do to manage your emotions and prioritize your mental health is simply talking to a mental health professional. Psychotherapy is an excellent way to analyze your feelings and thoughts in-depth, identify your stressors, and receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Understandably, some people have reservations about getting therapy. It can be an intimidating experience at first, but eventually, you’ll get used to it and find how much it helps.
Changing the way you interpret life’s circumstances and challenges is a stepping stone to a more positive and healthy outlook on life. Not everyone is a natural-born optimist. However, achieving positive mental and emotional health will help you cope with your struggles and maintain your overall wellbeing.
About the Author: John Llanasas is a content writer at 1000 Islands Rehab Centre where they offer a variety of substance-specific addiction rehab programs that are customized for individual needs and circumstances.
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.
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