It’s been almost a year since much of the world went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of us, it’s been a difficult transition. We now have to deal with virtual schooling, remote work, constant childcare, and lack of face-to-face human interaction. Juggling all of this means that occasionally, we either forget to prioritize our mental health or just don’t have the time to do so. To make your mental health journey a little easier, we’ve compiled the top mental health takeaways from ACLEA’s Mid-Year Meeting.
Introduce Self-Care Into Your Routine Gradually. Trying to figure out where to start on your mental health journey can be daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Instead of tackling everything all at once, attorney and coach Paul J. Unger recommends creating an Action Plan and incorporating new self-care routines on a weekly basis. For example, during Week 1, try focusing on bettering your sleep: go to bed at the same time every day, create a going-to-bed routine, try not to use screens in bed, etc. During Week 2, continue to upkeep your new sleeping habits, but try incorporating another self-care routine, like meditating for 15 minutes everyday. These Action Plans can be specific to you and you should create them in a way that fits into your current lifestyle and focuses on self-care items you’d like to work on.
Plan Something to Look Forward To. These days, it’s hard (and ill-advised) to plan something as big as a vacation or a get together with friends and family, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan something else to look forward to. You could plan a stay-at-home date night for you and your partner, or plan a picnic for yourself in a local park with your favorite meal. Whatever you plan, having something to look forward to leads to positive anticipation, which counteracts boredom and can reduce depression and anxiety.
Get Regular Physical Exercise. Exercise to reduce anxiety and depression isn’t a new concept, but it can be hard to make time for it while juggling our other responsibilities and trying to stay home as much as possible. Regardless, getting even 10 to 15 minutes of physical exercise everyday can release endorphins, reduce negative thoughts, and help you gain confidence. If you can’t get to a gym or don’t feel comfortable going out for a run or walk, try doing some mat exercises like yoga or pilates at home.
Plan Your Whole Week. On the same day every week, try planning out the next seven days. This will help you manage your time better and prevent distractions during the week, and can also help you clean out your workspace, review all of your upcoming tasks and deadlines, and stay focused on goals, all of which can help reduce anxiety and overwhelming feelings during the week.