This is slightly different to what I usually talk about, but I feel it is important and needs to be addressed. Mental health, to me, is just as – if not more – important as physical health, and 2020 has been a year that has truly tested us collectively. From the threat of a global pandemic, to world-wide lockdowns, to the constant fight for many social justice issues across the globe, it has been a very trying time. I am someone who has always had issue with what I like to refer to as ‘The Mean Reds’.
They have been particularly bad during this year. Now I am a very logical person, so I know that there are very real reasons to be afraid right now: Covid is very much a real threat and even though it’s been nearly a whole year since it was discovered, we still don’t seem to be making much progress in finding out how to fight/combat/deal with it. I also hate that this is the first time in a long time where I feel like so much of my life is no longer under my control. I cannot simply go wherever I please, travel where I please, see who I please. I haven’t been able to hug my parents or my best friend in nearly a whole year, and there is no guarantee when it will be safe to do so again.
Now I am in no way qualified to give anyone advice about how to deal with their own mental health, and if you are struggling to manage it on your own I beg of you to go and speak to a professional. Some very useful links are:
Some of the coping methods I have found though that really help my own mental health though are as follows. I have used these over the years and find that when done regularly they really do help me keep my head on straight and keep my mental health in check.
My biggest thing is journalling. Having somewhere to just completely brain dump all of your thoughts and feelings can be such a helpful exercise. I just use a standard notebook and just word vomit onto the pages. I very rarely go back through my journal to read past entries, as I have found it never helps and just reminds of me of things that I was otherwise trying to not dwell on. But it has also been helpful to sort out my thoughts and my plans, letting me have somewhere completely private and non-judging where I can say whatever I like and to stop all of my thoughts rushing around my head.
In the winter this can be hard to keep up with, but even just going for a nice long walk in the evenings can work wonders. It can be good to do something that allows you to move your body and also get you out of your head for a bit. For me, my go to exercises are running, yoga or barre workouts. They don’t have to be very long runs or a really bendy yoga flow, just taking ten or fifteen minutes to move your body and to completely focus on something else for that time. I find that when I do take that little bit of time to just really get into my exercise, I come away with a clearer head and a calmer outlook. Mainly because I’ve usually forgotten about all of the tiny little things I was worrying about before I started!
Right so I cannot draw. Nor paint. And really my sewing skills are lacking. But there is something very freeing about completely losing yourself in a creative act. For me, writing has always been my outlet, and even if it is just a couple thousand words, it gives me a way to stretch my imagination and also gives me something concrete at the end of the day that I alone have created. Even my paintings, which look like a four year old could have painted them with their teeth, are a fun way to spend an afternoon where I can just have a bit of fun and make something completely my own.
Connect with people
This is even more important in 2020 than ever before when it can so easily feel like we are all way more isolated from one another. But that is the joy of modern technology: I can call anyone, at any time, and usually get through to them. I can phone my Mom and hear about how her gardening is going, or call my friend to hear about her work dramas. I can play online video games with friends and send my friends funny pictures of my pets. While 2020 has felt like a somewhat lonely year, it has been very helpful for me to have the reminder that we are all feeling this. The entire world has had to sort of stand still for the year, and everyone is finding something about that situation that stresses them out. It’s what makes us human and it is sometimes a nice reminder that you are definitely not alone in any of this.