7 Ways to Look After Your Mental Health in 2021
By Karon Warren
Last Updated: December 18, 2020
Focus on brighter days ahead in 2021
The year of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on nearly everyone. With rates of depression and anxiety rising in the wake of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to make a New Year’s resolution of looking after your mental health. A COVID vaccine and the approval of new treatments is bringing hope the pandemic may soon subside, which bodes well for improved mental health. For a jumpstart, here are seven ways to take care of your mental health and get the most out of life in 2021 and beyond.
1. Start with the basics of healthy eating, good sleep, and regular exercise.
You’ve heard it over and over again, but it bears repeating: Eating a healthy diet, getting a good night’s sleep, and exercising regularly all go a long way in reducing stress, improving self-esteem, and reducing vitamin deficiencies that lead to better mental health. It might sound simplistic, but taking care of our physical body plays a large part in taking care of our mental health. Therefore, make New Year’s resolutions to care for yourself by building a firm foundation for health starting with these three elements.
2. Utilize free community resources for counseling.
Talking to someone about the challenges, emotional struggles, and mental health concerns you may face on a regular basis goes a long way in helping you maintain good mental health. Having a professional help you work through issues can really help you tackle them on your own. If you can’t afford a therapist, take advantage of free community resources for counseling. To find one near you, check with your local health department, faith-based organization, or local hospital. An internet search for your area also may direct you to free resources, including telehealth options.
3. Use apps shown to improve mental health or outlook.
Today, there are numerous smartphone apps, some free and others charge a fee, that can help improve your mental health. For instance, Breathe2Relax, an app designed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, teaches breathing exercises to manage stress. Happify is a self-guided app that uses exercises and games to increase positive emotions. For better sleep, lower stress, and less anxiety, Calm offers guided meditations, Sleep Stories, breathing programs, relaxing music, and stretching exercises to relax you.
4. Take virtual classes or join a virtual book club.
Instead of getting caught up in the news or worrying about a job situation, make some 2021 resolutions to try something new. For instance, if you’ve always wanted to learn to cook or improve your culinary skills, sign up for an online cooking class. Many chefs from around the globe are offering virtual classes or hosting Facebook Live cooking demonstrations. Another option is joining a virtual book club. You actually can start your own with a few friends on Zoom, or find one online. Also, check with your local library, which may offer monthly virtual events on numerous topics.
5. Join online community groups to stay connected.
The internet has long been a gathering place for individuals to come together and discuss their favorite topics. Joining some of these online communities can be a great way to stay connected while sharing your thoughts and passion on some things that are important to you. For instance, AARP hosts numerous free virtual events ranging from trivia nights to “Girlfriend Talk” on various topics to yoga classes and more. An internet search can lead you to online community groups on your favorite topics.
6. Get together with family and friends online or socially distance outside.
Missing your family and friends can really take a toll on your mental health, so it’s important to stay connected with them. One way to stay in touch is to host regular online meetings using Zoom, Google Meet, or FaceTime. Get together for dinner, movie night, or just to chat. If you want to see people in person, host a socially distanced event, such as a neighborhood cocktail party. Gather your neighbors, make sure everyone is spread out, and catch up over your favorite libations.
7. Attend virtual concerts, tours and performances.
Not seeing your favorite artist live in concert or attending the latest Broadway musical has been disheartening for many, but more and more musicians, theater groups, and performing artists are taking their shows online. For instance, Justin Bieber will livestream a New Year’s Eve concert in collaboration with T-Mobile. Or you can catch the Shakespeare’s Globe performance of Romeo and Juliet streaming on its YouTube channel through February 2021. Also, numerous museums around the world are offering virtual tours, including the Art Institute of Chicago, The Dalí Theatre-Museum in Spain, and the Musée du Louvre in Paris.
About The Author: A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Karon Warren is a successful long-time published journalist who covers health, finance, insurance, business, real estate, lifestyle and travel. Her work appears in numerous online outlets and print publications across the country. She also is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.