For millions of Americans, 2020 was an outright difficult, if not, impossible year. Between struggling with depression and anxiety, navigating an unprecedented pandemic, self-isolation and loss of proper routine and employment, a lot of Americans spent the year in a haze.
With cases of depression still rising, it’s clear that 2021 will pose another challenge, which is why more than ever, it’s important to take care of our mental health.
Putting you and your mental health first this 2021
Last year, one of the many things that the pandemic has taught us is that we always need to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. This goes hand in hand, as you wouldn’t be fully healthy physically if your mental health isn’t, and vice versa.
Here, we’ve listed down some of the best practices you can do to prioritize your mental health this 2021:
1. Go back to the basics
This is probably the easiest one on this list, yet it’s one that a lot of people are surprisingly having trouble consistently keeping up with. To go back to the basics, you need to prioritize your basic needs, such as eating, getting some much-needed exercise, and getting plenty of sleep at night. Doing so will not only make you healthier physically but should also improve your mood, self-esteem and stress levels.
The problem is that a lot of people are unaware of where to start. So here are some tips you can follow:
- Eating – While eating lots of fruits and vegetables should be high on your list, one other important thing to take note of is to honor your hunger cues. This means eating healthy snacks here and there to keep you energized all throughout the day.
- Sleeping – When it comes to sleeping, aim for at least 7-9 hours each night, as one of the main reasons behind day exhaustion is lack of sleep the night prior. To do this, make sure you limit your screentime and turn off any electronic devices an hour before bedtime. Try to sleep at the same time each night as well, and opt for relaxing activities like reading a book before shut-eye.
- Exercise – When it comes to exercise, the key is to make it enjoyable, as this will help you become more consistent. It doesn’t have to be strenuous as well and can be a simple routine you always follow, such as jogging, taking a walk or biking. Just remember to always keep moving.
2. Go to therapy
If you’re able to, it’s important to visit a therapist whenever you can, preferably weekly or bi-weekly. The benefits of having a therapist are well-documented and well-known, and talking to someone that provides a non-judgmental space to address what you’re feeling can do wonders for your mental health.
Not only that, but a therapist can also help empower you in better understanding just what to do in times like this, or even how you can better take care of your mental health.
3. Make small changes
Much like all the other New Year’s eve that came before, this January is no different and is welcomed by people making New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, the majority of people don’t follow through, and this could also be the same for you.
To make it stick this year, pursue small and simple changes and make them a habit. This can either mean taking a walk every day, sleeping at the same time every night, reading more books, or spending more time with your family. It doesn’t have to be big, just a small habit you can stick to that will improve your day and life.
4. Utilize free resources for counseling in your community
As mentioned above, talking to someone about your emotional struggles, challenges and any other concerns can do a lot to help improve your mental health and make sure it’s stable.
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a therapist. If this is you, you can instead take advantage of free community resources for some counseling. To find one, simply check in with your local health department or local hospital. There are also telehealth options available via the internet, and you can also join help groups if there are any near you.
5. Take medication
Every year, millions of Americans take medication and supplements to help manage their mental health, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. So if you’re someone who’s been prescribed medication, make sure that you take it. If not, you can try scheduling with your doctor to check whether you’d benefit from them. You can also take supplements, two of which are BrainMD and Zenstra.
BrainMD is established by Dr. Daniel Amen, M.D., and is focused on ensuring you always prioritize your mental health, whether it’s via supplements that help fill your micronutrient gaps, online courses, or books that all focus on different aspects of mental health. Learn more about it here.
Zenstra, on the other hand, has been providing all-natural and FDA-registered supplements manufactured by medical scientists that specialize in fields ranging from neuroscience to immunology. This way, you can be sure that each supplement you take will help support not only your mental health but your overall well-being. Learn more about their supplements here.
6. Avoid negativity and look for constructive outlets
One of the biggest contributors to depression and anxiety these days is social media. If this is the case for you, it’s best to minimize its usage, as well as your engagement with individuals or groups that hinder your growth.
As for how you feel, you can try writing them down in a journal, as doing so can help organize your thoughts and translate complex feelings into words. This is why it’s productive and helpful, even cathartic for some.