If there was ever a year to focus on mental health, it was 2020. A pandemic, quarantines, economic struggles, and an election headlined an exhausting list of stressors. If you find that you’re still struggling with those anxious thoughts heading into 2021, you’re not alone.
Chances are you’ve already tried to combat the anxiety with tactics like deep breathing or meditation. Over time, though, they can lose a bit of their potency. Fortunately, there are many other ways to help keep those thoughts and emotions under control. Here are a few less common mental health tactics to consider adding to your mental health toolkit.
1. Go Paddle Boarding
Paddle Boarding isn’t just a fun up-and-coming activity. It’s also a wonderful way to release some stress. A stand up paddle board provides a unique aquatic experience — even for those who don’t like to get wet.
The activity is dry, quiet, and calm. It also involves plenty of sunlight, fresh air, and exercise — all three of which are great ways to relieve stress and strengthen the mind.
2. Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
Getting enough rest is a common way to address mental health. After all, it’s difficult to maintain your focus when you’re feeling foggy. However, the solution doesn’t always revolve around getting a greater quantity of sleep. It’s also dependent on the quality of the sleep that you’re getting. Review your sleep situation and consider some of the following:
- Is your bed dedicated to sleep and no other activities?
- Are you avoiding blue light an hour or two before bed?
- Do you exercise or drink caffeine too close to going to sleep?
- Is your bedroom dark and does it have a peaceful atmosphere?
- Do you have a good bed, sheets, and pillow?
Addressing the quality of your sleep can have a huge impact on your mental health.
3. Read Through a Muscle Relaxation Script
Deep breathing is a good initial response to stress. If you find that this isn’t doing the trick, though, consider trying a progressive muscle relaxation script.
A script of this nature can help you purposefully relax your body. It enhances your focus on the present. It also makes it easier to identify where you’re carrying your stress.
4. Look for Volunteering Opportunities
There’s nothing quite as uplifting as helping others. The bond that comes with community activities is a great way to both help those around you and tend to your mental health at the same time.
Volunteering is a particularly effective mental health tactic during a pandemic. Social distancing and quarantines tend to keep everyone apart. This creates a sense of isolation. Reaching out and looking for ways to have a positive impact on others is an excellent way to fight back against this tendency toward loneliness.
5. Get Structured and Organized
A cluttered lifestyle can lead to poor mental health. It can also lead to inefficient thinking as well. By addressing clutter in your life, you can dramatically improve your mental health. This is particularly relevant to those who have spent the better part of the past year cooped up on the homefront. You can address the clutter in your life by:
- Setting up routines — especially a morning routine to start your day.
- Maintaining a schedule to help you keep track of appointments and responsibilities.
- Creating a cleaning schedule that includes decluttering spaces.
- Donating and recycling anything that you don’t need.
Taking steps to declutter your life takes time. However, if you can consistently do so, it will go a long way in providing a sense of mental stability over the long-term.
6. Tend to Your Finances
Finances can be a huge cause of stress and anxiety. If your finances are in shambles it can lead to things like depression, insomnia, and social withdrawal — all of which are detrimental to your mental health. 2020 hasn’t been a stellar year for many individuals financially speaking, and that’s okay. The goal here isn’t to pay off every penny of your debt or get a new job that pays more.
Rather, it may simply mean taking the time to set up or update your budget. A budget will help you maintain better control over your finances, regardless of your current situation. Not only that, but putting all of those numbers down on paper can also take a huge weight off of your mind.
There are many ways to address mental health concerns. And yet, sometimes basic tools like eating well or going for a walk can lose their effectiveness. If that’s the case, refer to the six suggestions above. Consider which of them most directly relate to your situation. Then use them to bolster your toolkit of coping mechanisms as you navigate your way through the weeks and months ahead.
This content is brought to you by Hannah Madison.