It’s been a tough year. With COVID-19, a social and cultural upheaval, and a global recession wreaking havoc, it has indeed been a tumultuous 2020.
I know it’s hard to maintain a semblance of sanity. Even before all these problems, almost half of adults in the United States experienced mental health issues. I can imagine that number must be higher in 2020.
There’s no point in invalidating how we feel or shoving our intense feelings under the rug. It’s only a temporary solution that’s ultimately more damaging than helpful in the long run. But just because we need to grieve doesn’t mean we need to abandon the idea of pursuing peace and joy altogether. Joy and pain can go hand in hand in our lives.
Here are a few tips for embracing wholeness, even amid a pandemic and recession.
Acknowledge the pain.
The first step to healing is acknowledging you were wounded in the first place. What are the losses that you need to grieve? Did you lose someone you love to this disease? How were your finances affected? Has it been hard to have your kids with you 24/7, even though you love them?
As hard as it is, we must recognize and properly grieve our losses lest we go on our lives, thinking we have fully healed from the pain of losing them.
Pray or meditate.
No matter your spiritual or religious beliefs, studies show that prayer and meditation can decrease depression and anxiety, improve learning and memory, and increase emotional stability and happiness.
Make a habit of praying or meditating before you go about your day. Don’t look at your phone first thing in the morning—start your day right by centering yourself and preparing your mind and body for the day ahead.
Adopt a dog.
Mental health experts have long advocated for the adoption of dogs to reduce anxiety and stress. Our furry friends can offer comfort, healing, and unconditional love in ways that our fellow human beings can’t. Many neglected dogs are in dire need of a new home—consider dropping by your neighborhood pet shelter and see if you find yourself falling in love with one of the pups.
It can be a new source of joy for your children when you find ways for the whole family to connect and bond with your new pet. Hiring a canine trainer can also be a great way to help you foster a bond with your pup.
Don’t neglect self-care.
When crises strike, the first thing that goes out of the window is our ability to care for ourselves, especially when we have kids. When you find yourself deeply unmotivated or losing energy, check with your body: Have you been getting enough sleep? Are you eating right? Are you neglecting personal hygiene?
Consider getting a new hobby as well. Whether it’s something creative, like painting or arts and crafts, or something to do with homemaking, like cooking or gardening, doing something with your hands can help calm your mind and stop the flow of negative thoughts.
Find ways around your busy schedule to ensure you are also meeting your own needs. You know what they say about putting on your oxygen mask first, right?
Manage your social media consumption.
One way to reduce anxiety is by lessening the toxicity we allow into our lives. If you find that reading too many headlines increases your stress levels, consider decreasing your social media time or allotting a certain time during the day to get updated on the essentials. Staying informed is important, but we need to do it in a way that’s healthy for us.
Managing our online consumption also helps us avoid comparison—it stops us from being hard on ourselves whenever we see other moms doing motherhood “better” than we are during this pandemic.
Connect with your partner.
Being stuck at home may seem like the perfect scenario for you and your significant other to get closer. But cabin fever can get in the way of intimacy and vulnerability towards each other. Don’t neglect your time with your spouse, and be honest about how you’re feeling.
Seek professional help, if necessary.
All these tips will never take the place of more tangible help, like counseling and therapy. If you feel like you’ve done everything in your power to find a semblance of mental stability and nothing is working, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
We’re All in This Together
Times are undeniably challenging, but we’re all in this together. Finding pockets of joy and peace may seem like a daunting task, but you need your health now more than ever. Hang in there until you find a stronger you on the other side of this pandemic.