I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but these are unprecedented times.
It’s almost a cliche to say such a thing, but I thoroughly believe that the year 2020 will be a turning point in the history of the world; a do-or-die point in time where the only thing we can do is move forward and embrace a “new normal”. The world is going to look very different from here on out, and the best thing we can all do is educate ourselves on how to swim through the torrid waters of life that we’re all trying not to get submerged in.
I’ve heard from so many around me that it is getting harder and harder to stay positive when there are so many bad things happening in the world. While I agree that things seem especially bleak right now, I also believe that we can persevere if we take the time to take care of ourselves!
1. Don’t be Afraid to Take Time for Yourself
I am proud to say that in the year 2020, it seems that society as a whole has finally decided to take mental health seriously. That being said, 2020 has also been a year that has really challenged people’s mental health in unprecedented ways.
As someone who deals with anxiety, there are some days when I wake up feeling great and some days where I wake up and just want to hide away. I used to feel ashamed of myself for having a bad day. I would try so hard to act like nothing was wrong because I feared someone asking me, “Are you okay?” Now, I have a different mindset entirely.
Do not feel ashamed if you need some time to take care of your own mental health. That could be thirty minutes or an entire day or even longer if you need it!
For a quick bit of self-care, I love to spend time on skincare, and have really loved experimenting with my skincare routine in order to make me glow from the outside as well as the inside! For those days when you need more time to take care of yourself, I love getting cozy with a cup of tea, a nice blanket, and a book or going for a walk!
2. Take Things at Your Own Pace
About a month into the COVID-19 pandemic, I was hearing so many stories about people’s amazing accomplishments during their self-quarantine. These people were spending their time making an impact or working on passion projects that they previously had no time for. Meanwhile, my biggest accomplishment in quaratine was logging over 200 hours in Animal Crossing.
At first, I felt a bit embarrassed; I felt like I had squandered all of that time that I have been given when I should have been using it to learn a new language or build a Lego Death Star. But then I realized that there was no reason to feel ashamed of how I was spending my time. It was my time, and I could spend it how I wanted!
I am an introvert, so–in truth–being told to stay inside, work from home, and keep my distance from people was a dream come true. Being out in the world can be incredibly overwhelming, so being able to spend more time at home with my introvert hobbies really helped me mentally. There was no pressure to do anything productive with my time if I didn’t want to; I could just focus on myself.
I honestly feel more in-tune with myself than ever before, and it has really helped me with staying positive and spreading that positivity to others!
3. Get Off of Your Phone
I–like many of my millennial peers–am glued to my phone for more hours in a week than I am proud of; however, I think that in times of crisis, we should try our best to distance ourselves from social media, newsfeeds, and news cycles.
Get off of your phone! That time could be spent in so many better ways!
Yes, it is very important to educate yourself as much as possible on political issues, economic issues, social issues, etc. However, a lot of the “news” that we expose ourselves to is just….noise. A lot of it consists of talking heads just repeating their own opinion in order to fill airtime on TV networks or someone you sat next to in math class freshman year spouting off on their own political beliefs.
It’s overwhelming and stressful, and the best favor you can do for yourself is to just turn it off. I have found that limiting myself to credible, fact-based news sources only has really helped my mental health. These outlets do not pump out story after story for clicks; they update when there is an actual update you need to know about! For example, for COVID-related news, I prefer to check the CDC website. For news related to my local government, I will follow my governor’s and mayor’s Twitter accounts.
This helps you limit the amount of information you are taking in each day so that you have the mental capacity to focus on other things; things that make you happy!
4. Keep to a Schedule
While it may be incredibly tempting to sleep in until noon and then binge “90 Day Fiancee” day in and day out, I think that this is a surefire way to start to feel like you’re in a rut. I find that the days where I just laze away (though nice every once in a while) are the days where I feel the most helpless and negative.
Keeping a schedule helps you maintain a sense of purpose in your day-to-day life.
Though you may not have any appointments or social engagements to attend right now, it is important to still maintain the sense that you have something to do each day. I like to start my day by writing out a list of things that I want to get done, and I make sure that I am able to cross all of them off by the time I go to sleep.
Set an alarm in the mornings! Schedule an hour for exercise, an hour for cooking, an hour for cleaning, an hour for reading, or an hour for calling your grandma. Setting a schedule for yourself id a fantastic way to remember that every day is important and that you have an actual reason to get up in the morning!
4. Get Outside
Since I–and many others–are working full-time from home, it can be really easy to spend eight hours straight just sitting at my desk. Those are the days that I feel the worst both mentally and physically. My muscles feel stiff, my eyes feel strained, and my mind feels exhausted.
This is why I try my best to incorporate exercise into my every day routine–even if I only have time to carve out a quick walk around my neighborhood.
Getting outside, breathing some fresh air, seeing new faces, and moving your body all are incredible tools for clearing your mind and feeling fresh.
I find that I am even more productive at my job when I take the time to step away from my desk and go for a run in the middle of the day. And since we are all spending a lot more time staring at the same rooms in our homes than we would like, getting outside and changing your scenery is such a refreshing addition to our days!
6. Remember to Connect
It is very easy to close ourselves off when we are feeling down or sad or scared about something–especially when you live alone, and especially when you are told to social distance from your friends and family!
Many of my interpersonal relations are richer now than they were before 2020 simply because communicating over phone or videoconferencing is such a norm now that it is easier than ever to get in touch with others. I actually really like Zoom happy hours! What’s better than chilling with a glass of wine in your jammies and still catching up with friends and colleagues? That’s a win in my book!
We longer have to worry about whether or not someone will be home when we give them a call; they definitely will be! And we no longer have to go through the horrors of trying to find a good time to video chat with friends and dealing with scheduling conflicts. Aside from work, most people don’t have many pressing engagements right now!
Another important thing to remember is that if you are feeling overwhelmed by outside forces–be that social change, politics, health scares–the people around you are likely dealing with the same feelings!
Now is the best time to reach out to some people that you may have lost touch with in recent years in addition to your best friends!
Keep in Mind:
Everyone has days where they struggle; that’s just part of being human! The important thing is how you handle those difficulties and rise above them.
Though it is incredibly important to take care of yourself and your mental health, it is important to remember those around you. After you take the time to love yourself a bit, make sure that you spread the love too! It only takes a moment to send a quick message to someone you’re thinking about or tell someone that you appreciate them! Spread the love and positivity, and help make the world a place you are proud of!
I am by no means a mental health professional. If you do think that you need to speak with a professional, there are so many amazing resources out there, some of which are completely free! Here are a few:
Lastly, if you just need an ear or some friendly advice, I love to hear from you all! Let’s all take this opportunity to take control of our mental health and wellbeing!
Though this is advice specially catered to our 2020 reality, these are concepts that can be carried forward and put into practice in the long-term too!