2020 was tough…that much is obvious. We experienced the biggest global pandemic of a century, people lost their homes, their jobs and even their loved ones. They also lost their ability in many ways to manage and improve their mental health.
For me as a psychologist, I found the past year one of the hardest to do my job effectively. The things that so often help with mental health development were taken away from us.
Meeting friends, getting enough exercise, spending time with family and being productive with our careers are all things that can subjectively help peoples mental health.
However, this year we really couldn’t do any of them.
As we enter 2021, many of the challenges we faced are still with us, some may be even more challenging than they were last year. However, there is hope and a clear light at the end of the tunnel.
What’s more, is that the conversation about mental health has exploded. More people than ever are talking about their mental health and being vigilant of the mental health of others.
Recently on the GetPsyched Instagram, we asked our audience what lessons they learned about mental health from 2020 that they are taking with them into 2021. The responses were AMAZING!!!
“I learned that if I can’t control something, that’s my cue to not stress about it. I can only do what I can do”
“I learned that I put too much pressure on myself”
“I learned that the need for connection with others was making me settle for less than I deserve”
“In 2021 I will be taking up peace and simplicity”
“I learned that importance of being intentional with engaging with digital news and information”
This week on GetPsyched, we have been looking at improving your mental health in 2021. Check out our video on the topic here.
So, with everything that we have learned from 2020, and the challenges that we still face in the year ahead, how do we actually improve our mental health in 2021?
This for me is arguably the biggest key point when it comes to developing mental health in 2021.
We need to be resilient in the face of challenges, so often people try and eradicate or run away from their problems. People often try and pretend that they aren’t there or that they eventually disappear.
Resilience is about managing challenges, not hoping they disappear.
Resilience says to us that we need to face the difficult situation we are experiencing and showing a love of robustness to manage and endure the tough times.
For 2021 in particular, this is vital!!!
When we face difficulties and we bow out or give up, we give in to the “power” of the challenging situations. However, if we can stand up to it, recognise the difficulty we face and think about how we might learn from this situation or move past it effectively, then we really show resilience.
Think about some of the most difficult situations you have face this past year, I’m sure there will be many. Did you show resilience? If you didn’t, that’s ok but how might you have shown it? What might you learn from that difficult situation that you can use to equip you for the year ahead?
Manage Your Boundaries
Managing your boundaries is a huge point for improving your mental health in 2021, but what do we mean when we say boundaries?
Well establishing boundaries is really about setting parameters to your well being. It’s about not allowing yourself to be taken advantage of, it’s about setting a standard for what is ok and not ok when it comes to your well being.
It true that in 2020 we have had to be vigilant of other peoples mental health more than ever. It’s right that we do that, but it also makes it really easy for our boundaries to slip. Often we can focus so much on other peoples well being that we forget about our own.
2021 is the year of taking care of ourselves mentally and in order to do that we need to set appropriate boundaries.
Be Creatively Active
I am a huge component of exercise and healthy living and the connection between physical and mental health has been shown time and time again.
However, in 2020 we really had to think outside the box when it came to exercises. We renovated garages, we used our spare rooms, we filled milk bottles with water to use as weights. In 2021, we need to keep that creativity alive.
Thinking outside the box and being creative with your activity and exercise is vital to ensure we gain all the benefits of exercise in 2021.
So, when out for your daily walk, pick up the pace a little. When you have a free 20 minutes in the evening, try a few body squats, do a little spring cleaning, try a YouTube Joe Wicks workout…whatever it takes for you to stay active!
Allow Yourself To Feel What You Are Feeling
This sounds a little weird, I know, but I think allowing yourself to be authentic with your emotions is a really key tip for managing and improving mental health in 2021.
Allow yourself time to really experience your emotions. Sometimes that feels like the last thing you should be doing, but trust me, allowing yourself to experience and be open with your emotions is a key way of ensuring good mental health this year.
I see it time and time again, the people that bottle their emotions up the most are the ones that find the most challenging.
Set some time aside each day or throughout the week to experience what you’re feeling, don’t reject your emotions, they are trying to tell you something.
Even allowing yourself to start some reflective journalling can be hugely helpful when it comes to experiencing your emotions.
Create A Collaborative Support Network
Ok, what do I mean by a collaborative support network? What’s the difference between that and just a support network?
Well, a collaborative support network is a network of like-minded people that connect with each other through a shared purpose or cause.
We have had a year of zoom calls and online catch-ups, and that will still be a big part of our lives in 2021. Using these platforms though to help with our mental health is vital and creating support networks around us has been a big part of mental health in 2020 and will remain a big part of mental health maintenance in 2021.
Now, in order to create a collaborative support network, you might want to reach out to some trusted friends and suggest the idea of catching up online once a week to talk about how your week has been, the challenges you have faced and successes you experienced.
Allowing yourself to be supported and supporting others that are in the support network with the same goals in mind, to support each other, could be a really good idea for those of you wanting to improve your mental health in 2021.
2021 is the year of mental health in my opinion.
2020 stretched many of the limits of mental health for so many people. Incredibly challenging times were experienced, but valuable lessons were learned.
I really belive that with these points, and more that we covered in the video, we can make 2021 the most mental healthy year yet.
Wishing you all the very best for 2021, from everyone at GetPsyched!