Author: Alexis Paul
During the past two years, our world has been living in a pandemic – ultimately creating stress for many individuals and families. As such, with the new stressors we have faced, conversations regarding mental health and how to engage in self-care activities have been happening now more than ever. But where do those conversations lead to? Here we have suggestions on how you can take care of your mental health in the upcoming year:
- Find mental health care wherever (and however) you can. Mental health care can mean anything from individual therapy sessions to watching TikTok videos on mental health. Some people may need more professional help than others, so understanding how individual therapy works is important. If you can’t afford such services, you can look for other options such as hot-lines and warm-lines to call, workplace or school support with sessions from a counselor, or looking at one of the various (and often free) mental health smartphone apps.
- Personalize your mental health care. What does resting and de-stressing look like for you? Is it relaxing on the couch? Hiking a mountain? Playing a video game? Reading? Try to find a combination that leaves you feeling rested and recharged. Similarly, if you’re looking for a therapist find one that best understands your challenges. A therapist’s job is to help you with your goals for mental well-being.
- De-stigmatizing mental health challenges can start with you. This past year we have seen athletes such as Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka show that it is okay to not be okay. Sharing our own stories can encourage empathy and help others feel less alone. This also includes talking to young children about different topics to help de-stigmatize mental health challenges. In addition, its important to not be too hard on yourself when you are experiencing mental health challenges!
- Learn how to relax your body quickly when faced with stress. Get into the habit of taking 5 to 10 seconds to scan your body for tension, while also relaxing your muscles along the way. You can actually do this at different times throughout the entire day! When you are then faced with a stressor, you can take 5 seconds to relax and then face the stressor, which changes the wiring of your brain and how you respond to stress.
- Always feel free to reassess what you need. If what you’re doing to manage your mental health isn’t working, then try something else! Whether that be a new form of self-care, a new therapist, or a new level of treatment, every person is unique in what they need. If a therapist doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean therapy isn’t a good fit. Sometimes it takes a little while to find a therapist you like, and it’s okay. Reassessing your situation and your decisions or purpose can also be helpful. Be open to making room for what else could bring you a sense of fulfillment.
We hope you have a safe and happy new year!