Across the country, people are boxing up the holiday decorations, eating the last of the leftovers, and finally taking time to contemplate goals for the new year. Whatever this is the “year of”—going vegetarian, learning to knit, finishing that novel—there is always room for working on mental health.
After an unprecedented 2020, it is especially important to focus on mental health in the new year. Here are 10 tips to boost mental health in 2021.
Filter out the bad: For numerous reasons, we are rarely without our technology. Whether it’s working from home on a computer, or listening to the latest podcast or webinar on the phone, the internet—and the news—is hard to escape. In fact, looking at “bad” news has become so associated with negative feelings that it even has its own well known name: doomscrolling.
To put a pause on news-related negativity, use apps like Spring Health’s Moments to impose limits on phone use. On the computer, programs like Freedom or Cold Turkey can block specific sites for preordained amounts of time.
Volunteer: One of the best ways to boost one’s own mental health is to look outward. Recent research shows that people who volunteered felt better in general than those who didn’t. Even further, those who volunteered at least once a month identified as having better mental health, as opposed to those who didn’t volunteer as frequently. Although volunteering may look different until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, there are still worthwhile ways to help. Check with local organizations to see how you can pitch in.
Be mindful: Mindfulness can be hugely beneficial in lowering anxiety and depression. How to get mindful? Regular mediation can help retrain your brain to respond to stress more positively. Above all, practice is key to harnessing the benefits of mindfulness. Whether aided by an app, a book, or a group practice, a mindful state centers on the present. A good place to start is by focusing on breathing, and letting the mind sit in a state of rest.
Practice healthy routines: Perhaps we’ve all gotten a bit too comfortable with the perks of remote work—throwing on a nice shirt over a pair of sweats is so easy. But, getting into ruts around home, which has suddenly converted into an office, school, gym, and more, can also make us more lethargic, physically and mentally.
To energize your mind and day, try dressing as if going to the office, make your bed, and clean up messes. A change in routine can reinvigorate other areas in life.
Reinvent office space: With so much being done from home, having a clear delineation between work and home life is essential. One natural way to do this is to create a physical space that is only for work.
A separate room (with a door to close at the end of the day) is ideal, but there are other ways to get your mind into work mode. Try setting out specific objects (photos, a potted plant, a placemat) to designate when a kitchen table turns into a work one.
Get moving (outside): Getting the mental health benefits of exercise is as easy as a 10 minute walk. Want to boost these benefits even more? Take your exercise outdoors, where the natural setting can lower stress.
Connect, meaningfully: Even in these seemingly disconnected COVID-19 times, there are still ways to make and maintain real relationships. Talk to friends and family, work on a project in real time with others, or take a new class, all virtually. There are also programs that connect potential pen pals with each other. Contact local assisted living facilities to see if any of its elderly residents want a virtual visit or letter.
Take breaks: Don’t feel guilty about taking a mental health day when needed. If burnout is around the corner, taking a step back from work can help to de-stress. Watch a movie, take a long walk, or do whatever helps you to relax and refresh.
Create a mental health care plan: In these unprecedented times, the value of a good mental health care plan has never been more clear. With so much information available online, now is a great time to do a bit of exploring and see what mental health options are available. Whether it be talk therapy or meditation sessions, figure out what appeals to you.
Start at work: An employer has a unique ability to help improve the mental health of its workers. Especially in this time where there is so much transition, the leadership team can provide stability and a place of connection for their staff. Offer events where employees can genuinely relax and connect (think virtual costume party or a game afternoon), as well as programs where employees can access different mental health treatments.
At Spring Health, we’ve made it easy for employees to navigate the world of mental health treatment. From a comprehensive intake, to a personalized care plan, Spring Health makes mental health treatment accessible and effective. Request a demo to see what Spring Health offers.