From wildfires to a pandemic and everything in-between: 2020 has been a tough year, and that’s a wild understatement too. Everyone’s mental health took a bit of a knock (some more than others) with the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Things don’t seem to be letting up soon, however, so it’s time to start focusing on self-care.
1. Create a routine
Most people have probably heard this advice before – but that’s because it’s good advice! People are creatures of habit, and having a routine helps create a structure that the human brain seems to enjoy. Purposeful routines also help instill good, healthy habits and can be greatly helpful for breaking bad ones. They also help diminish the type of stress that comes from not getting important things done.
2. Stick to Work Hours & Take Breaks
When working from home, it can start to feel like work and home life begin to blend into one non-stop cycle. Working extra (often unpaid) hours suddenly becomes normal, and it can even feel like it’s not enough.
Going to the office creates a way to separate work and life. Being around co-workers and in the work environment also helps people fall into a natural pace alongside everyone else. So it’s harder to fall into negative feelings of inadequacy or like not enough is being accomplished throughout the day.
To combat these feelings, try to stick to a set number of work hours. These don’t have to coincide with a regular 9-5 if it isn’t necessary for the job but don’t make overtime a habit. Remember to take breaks throughout the day too. Not only is it better for mental health, but stretching those legs has a lot of physical health benefits.
3. Eliminate potential stress points where possible
This is a hard one because what counts as a stress point will be different for everyone. Of course, it’s also not always possible to take steps to prevent things that cause stress. However, some things can be planned for, in a way, to avoid any potential issues.
For example, this year hasn’t just been challenging on people’s lifestyles, income, and mental health. It’s also been a nightmare in virtual terms – with cyberattacks, especially phishing attacks, increasing exponentially. Cybercriminals have taken advantage of the pandemic, and people weren’t prepared for these attacks on top of everything else.
A way to avoid that potential outcome and deal with a stolen identity or compromised accounts is to use cybersecurity basics. That is especially true while working from home. These can include using a VPN online, making sure not to reuse passwords, and adding two-factor authentication for added protection.
4. Come to terms with stress and things that can’t be controlled
Since some things just can’t be changed and certain causes of stress can’t be avoided, it’s best to accept them. That’s much easier said than done, of course, especially for any significant triggers that impact one’s life.
Working through trauma and stress is good. Continuously worrying or ruminating about circumstances that cannot be changed isn’t helpful, though. It’s a process that can quickly start deteriorating someone’s mental well-being. So try to direct that energy into something more positive, where possible, and take action to change things that can be changed instead. Those small wins add up in a big way in the end.
5. Limit social media time
Social media is a significant source of anxiety for many people and can exacerbate symptoms of depression. Of course, it depends on how someone uses their social accounts and what they expose themselves to. But it’s all too easy to fall into several downward-spiraling traps.
Anyone who’s ever gotten into a fight with a stranger online (which is probably everyone) has seen the futility of the endeavor. Yet it’s a pattern that’s easy to fall into because there are so many conflicting opinions – regularly backed up with some hateful words – online.
It’s important to remember that it’s highly unlikely that engaging with someone will change their mind. It doesn’t mean the urge to tell them they’re wrong isn’t valid, but it’s better to pick those battles. At least for the sake of personal mental health.
6. Focus on Physical Health Too
A lot of people may be cut off from their conventional means of exercise right now. Yet, there’s still no excuse for not getting in a bit of a workout because it’s beneficial for improving mental health. This has been scientifically proven over and over. Also, try to avoid junk food as much as possible and focus on getting enough sleep.
With a pandemic and lockdown affecting people’s health and jobs, more physical isolation, and political issues ramping up, it’s no wonder everyone’s mental health is suffering. All of these additional stresses can have a severely damaging effect on people’s mental well-being. Make sure to set some time aside to self-reflect and implement any changes that can help foster better personal wellness.