We probably don’t need to tell you that 2020 has been a difficult year. We’re living in unprecedented times that are taking us way off script. As the year wears on, the comfort of certainty has been harder to come by. And while uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing, we can’t deny that our mental health has been a far bigger priority these past months.
That’s why in honor of World Mental Health Day, we wanted to share guidance and resources for supporting mental wellbeing. No matter where you come from or what you believe, each of us could use a friendly reminder on what mental health truly means.
We realize that no article or blog post will (or should) replace the help of a trained professional. However, we also understand that not everyone has access to the same resources. Here you’ll find helpful tips for managing moments of stress or uncertainty, plus a list of amazing free resources for help when you need it.
With that in mind, it is our hope that this article can act as a starting point for those looking to support their mental health, and inspire readers to begin a journey toward true wellbeing.
First: Expand Your Idea of Self-Care
Now let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: that self-care has been made synonymous with beauty and skin care. We couldn’t tell you how many times we’ve seen self-care associated exclusively with face masks, bubble baths, or manicures.
While these can all be amazing ways to reward or calm yourself, self-care means so much more. Ultimately, it means allowing yourself to practice self-love, while setting boundaries between yourself and unhealthy habits or stressors.
Make A List
Allow yourself the time to consider what activities really make you happy. Write them down on index cards and stick them in a pencil box, or list them in a notebook where you can reference your ideas.
Try New Things
If you can, we encourage you to try variety in your self-care activities. Because while these times may feel uncertain, there is, quite ironically, most of us are experiencing a lot of daily monotony. Think of a few ideas that involve new skills, or new places. Try to have activities that you can do alone and with those close to you, as well as options for both indoor and outdoor activities. This way, you’ll always have options to choose from no matter what the weather (or air quality) looks like outside.
Ditch What Doesn’t Work
It’s important to remember that self-care should be something you want to do – if it feels stressful, it’s O.K. to try something different. For instance, cooking a homemade meal can be a wonderful way to feel one with your home space while getting creative. But for some, it can also feel hectic and overwhelming, so find something that suits your unique preferences. And most importantly: don’t feel guilty for giving it up!
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20 Mental Health Tips for Showing Yourself Some Love
If you’re having a hard time coming up with ways to show self-love, here are 20 easy ways to start. While they in no way replace professional help, positive mental health can still start with a few helpful baby steps.
Practice speaking kindly of yourself – check self-doubt and self-criticism at the door. If you have trouble complimenting yourself, remember this: if you practice something enough, it will become second nature.
Create a space in your home that’s dedicated to relaxation; escape there when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Even if this space is occasionally infiltrated (looking at you, kid’s toys), make a point to maintain its boundaries – and let everyone in the house know that you’re claiming it as your own!
Take some time to breathe deeply. Studies suggest that regular breathing exercises (like diaphragmatic breathing) can help promote relaxation, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, relieve pain, ease muscle tension, and even improve sleep.
Grow a garden or tend to indoor plants. Sure, focusing on the wellbeing of another living being can be stressful – but watching something flourish and grow can also be rewarding! Plants can also help to transform otherwise stuffy indoor spaces, by serving as reminders of free and refreshing outdoor spaces.
Limit screen time and take breaks from social media. This one, above all, may be difficult at first. We’ve all become accustomed to the instant gratification of red message icons, hearts, and likes. On the flip side, screens and social media can also trigger feelings of isolation, self-comparisons with others, and questions of self worth.