2020 has been one for the history books. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented economic, social and hygienic changes in our lives. As we have been inundated with change and isolation, many of us have become acutely aware of our mental health.
I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in March, relating to trauma I experienced as a teenager. At the same time, this global pandemic upended my sense of security. ￼I had to prioritize mental wellness like never before and, in the process, I have tried a bunch of different wellness strategies.
Here are my top tips for mental wellness in 2020 (based on a trial-and-error study with a sample size of one)
I make it a point to always incorporate movement into my day. Even when I am at my most miserable self, I still push forward with 15 minutes of exercise. That’s all you need to get some of those happy chemicals flowing! Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, running, cycling, bush walks - I do practically anything I can for a little surge of endorphins, as maintaining a chemical homeostasis gets me moving in the right direction. Running always provides me comfort, because it is a mentally soothing activity, as you focus your energy on one task. It’s also quite liberating and accessible, so it is an ideal option for everyone!
I’m currently lounging on the porch gazing up the escarpment as my legs and tummy soak in the sun rays. When I say light, I don’t just mean sunshine; I mean air, breathing, nature, and immersing yourself in the wet and the wild. Remove your body from an artificial, man-made environment, and escape to somewhere that you can truly ground yourself, feel the earth, breath the air, and restore your balance.
My main creative outlet is writing. I feel a lot better when I can express myself. As the words start to leave my mouth, a warm fullness engulfs my chest, replacing the cold pit of anxiety. But creativity is not limited to writing- it entails a variety of activities! It might be making TikTok videos, online gaming, painting, or recording music. ￼One easy and cheap option is digital art. There are tons of free sketching apps out there, like Adobe Sketch. I have been doing some digital sketching and then using another app, Canva, to layer my art with joyful images and inspiring words. These digital collages are an amazing creative outlet.
This is the hardest tip to master. These past few months, I have learned that isolation is not conducive with improving my mental health. It takes a community of support to heal. You have to be prepared to remove your armour, be vulnerable, and tell people when you’re not doing okay. And remember, you don’t have to be in crisis mode to ask for help. I really get that this part is difficult. It takes huge courage and vulnerability to admit you are not coping as well as you could be.
This is my blueprint for supporting mental health, but different things will work for different people. Allow yourself time to experiment with different strategies that suit your needs! I am not a mental health professional; I am a mum, a writer, a survivor, and someone who is trying their hardest to live life with mental wellness. I only hope my trials, triumphs, and tribulations can help you overcome your personal battles.
Written By: Hannah Maire
Read more about mental health from Hannah: www.hannahmaire.com