It’s more important than ever to protect your mental health these days. Controlling anxiety is an extra challenge lately. On top of our everyday stressors, 2020 has tossed us so many other reasons to worry, like the pandemic.
Many people know what it’s like to deal with excess anxiety. Unfortunately, now many more people also know that nagging feeling of dread all too well.
Due to the modern times we live in, we are bombarded with enough information to make even the most stable person a bit emotionally overwhelmed.
Ways to protect your mental health in today’s unpredictable world
Here is a list of reminders of ways to protect your mental health. I’m calling them reminders because there are no new ground-breaking tips here. Just common things most of us know, but need reminding now and again.
One of the biggest causes of anxiety is worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Neither is productive. The only time in which you will ever exist is in the present moment.
Focusing your mental energy on anything but the present moment is draining and pointless. Training yourself to stay present makes life easier, allows you to express gratitude for what’s in front of you, and alleviates anxiety.
It takes a lot of practice to stay in the moment. Like with meditation, you have to pull yourself back into the present often. Don’t allow your thoughts to replay that cringe-worthy thing you did five years ago or drift off to wonder what’s going to happen six months from now. It’s impossible to know the future, so why waste energy on it? If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s certainly that!
Focus on the things you can control
Many of the current world issues are beyond our control. Even most of our personal problems are usually out of our hands. Anxiety tricks you to believe that you should worry about solving problems that you simply cannot. Generating anxious energy into a void is not doing anything but harm to you.
Shift your focus to controlling your actions, lifestyle choices, and literally be the good you want to see in the world. It’s a healthier response to the problems of the world.
Go easy on yourself
Don’t beat yourself up for your feelings right now. It’s so easy to get down on ourselves and further isolate when we experience anxiety and depression. It’s easier to lean into the feelings instead of take action to work your way out.
Everyone’s mental health has fluctuations. Not all emotional swings mean there is a disorder present. Mental health requires ongoing work just like physical health does.
Self-care is not an indulgence to feel guilty about. It’s necessary for your overall mental well-being. Do the work to find out what recharges you the best and make time for it.
You are 100% not alone. You are never, but especially in 2020, everyone is experiencing the stress of the pandemic in some way.
Even during the best times, every single person has their own mental hang-ups. Once you open up and talk about your issues, you’ll be surprised how many people can relate.
Even my quirkiest of fears I’ve found others who feel the same. Now is a great time to reconnect with people. Phone calls are better than text or messages so you can hear their tone and keep misunderstandings to a minimum.
Unplug a little
There’s a fine balance between staying informed and knowing way too much. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the news coming at us from every source imaginable.
With all the media sources battling for clicks, the headlines are designed to provoke strong feelings. Unfortunately, right now, it’s mostly negative feelings. Protect your mental health by limiting your exposure.
If social media is draining you right now, you have every right to mute people. Whatever triggers you in your feed, hide it. Also keep in mind that many people, especially on Instagram, are only showing you their highlight reel. Don’t get down on yourself by thinking anyone out there is living a perfect life! You’re only seeing a curated, edited, and filtered feed.
Craving all the comfort foods? Yes, staying home all the time in comfy clothes with no social plans looming can make us feel like it’s a free pass for Junk Food City. However, keep in mind the effect that garbage food has on your physical and mental health.
By all means, treat yourself, but try to balance it out with nutritious foods that make you feel good, as well. Personally, sugar makes me extra anxious. When tensions are high, I avoid sugar all together. Keep a food journal to see which foods make you feel worse than normal.
An excellent way to get out of your own head is to help someone else. If you have extra time on your hands, and feel comfortable venturing out, consider volunteering or helping out in some way.
There’s also an option to volunteer online using a site like VolunteerMatch, to find options.
If you’re struggling to get a handle on your anxiety, get help. Although a lot of stigmas around mental health problems are dwindling, they are by no means gone. No one questions if you seek treatment for a physical illness. Why is it any different for mental health?
Don’t ever feel weak or any other way for seeking professional help. You’re no good to others if your mental health is not up to par. Things are heavy in 2020 — way more so than usual.
One pandemic perk is that telemedicine is more available. If you’re like me and get anxious leaving the house, you can schedule an appointment with a health professional right from home.
As I said, this list is pretty much common sense, but the reminders don’t hurt. I think I wrote this as much for myself than anyone else! It’s so easy to get down these days and forget the simple things you can do to maintain a positive mindset and protect your mental health.