Over the weekend we received some difficult news about Christmas. A holiday that is all about coming together no longer has that emphasis and many are understandably struggling with the adjustment. If you’re feeling a little (or a lot) exhausted and beaten down by this year, here are 6 ways to improve your mental health.
Recognise that you’ve come this far
This year has been full of ups and downs, and you’ve made it through every single one of them. There’s a chance that you’ve even learned a lot about yourself during this time, perhaps identifying new challenges and strengths, and developed new coping mechanisms in the process. People with eating disorders tend to struggle with uncertainty and change, yet this year has been saturated by both and here you are! Keep going.
Identify your stress response
If we can identify that anxiety is our response to stress, we gain a better perspective towards how we ‘work’.
With this new awareness, we can create a mindful separation between the stressful situation and our emotional response, and therefore avoid becoming consumed by the response by engaging in calming, grounding activities.
Take things moment to moment
The monotony of 2020 has meant that many of us have wanted to escape, dreaming of a tropical island or simply an existence free of such extreme restrictions. Yet the uncertainty of the pandemic has meant that day dreaming about the future only increases the amount of unknowns and, most likely, our amount of anxiety or stress.
This is a challenging situation to be in if you’re someone who has typically coped by living in the future, as opposed to the here and now. Reign in your horizon by focusing on things moment by moment: how are you going to spend your morning? Your afternoon? Keep things relatively close to home as you tune into your needs in the present.
Tune into your needs
To put it bluntly: go big on self-care!
Make an extra effort every day to do something for yourself that makes you feel good. Whether it’s a bath, a gentle walk, a ridiculously long skincare routine with a scented candle burning nearby – do small things that help you remember that you’re worth looking after.
Lots of us engage in self-caring activities as a coping mechanism in the face of challenge, however, engaging in these activities daily (i.e. not just when we’re in the midst of a tough time) will compound the beneficial effects. What could you do for yourself today?
Gratitude creates joy, not the other way around
Bookending your days with a short, 5-minute gratitude list will help reframe your perspective. Start small – are you grateful for the warm lighting in your bedroom? The crisp winter breeze through your hair? Your sibling or best friend? Make this a ritual every single day.
Ask for help
Here are 3 facts:
1) you’re allowed to ask for help,
2) you should ask for help when you need it,
3) you’re allowed to want and need the support of others.
Help can come from many different sources – a helpline, a parent, a best friend, even a colleague! Tune into what your needs are and ask yourself: what do I need from myself today? And what do I need from others? We’re social beings and so much (so much) of our wellbeing comes from being connected and supported by others.
Grant yourself permission to be human.