2020 might be the year of adverse mental health outcomes. The pandemic took countless jobs and left many without their health coverage to boot. It pays to protect your psyche.
What are the best ways to boost your mental health this fall? The following ten tips can help you calm overwhelming emotions and maintain your grip.
1. Organize Your Home
It’s time to leave for back-to-school night, but you can’t find your child’s planner under the piles of laundry strewn around their room. Disorganization doesn’t only feel chaotic — it costs you time and stress as you search for items.
Make a fall house-cleaning checklist, assign tasks to each family member and put them on the weekly schedule. Once you tackle the mess, you’ll manage last-minute must-dos in a snap without having to dig through a pile of paperwork.
2. Get Your Financials in Order
One of the factors keeping many folks awake at night is money woes. You might have considerable stress in this area — take care of what you can.
Protect your family with life insurance sooner rather than later. If you wait until you get older, your premiums will increase, and you may not be able to afford as much coverage.
If you lost your employer-sponsored healthcare with your job, try to get coverage if you can. While triage demands paying for food and housing first, over half a million Americans declare bankruptcy each year over medical debt.
3. Eat More Fish
According to Chinese researchers, people who consume the most fish lower their risk of depression by 17%. Researchers conjecture that the omega-3 fatty acids change the structure of brain membranes or alter neurotransmitter function.
How can you incorporate more fruit from the sea? Pick up on the Catholic ritual of eating fish on Fridays. You can also bring back the classic tuna salad sandwich for lunch or top your morning bagel with smoked salmon.
4. Start an Exercise Program
Exercise floods your body with feel-good endorphins that decrease pain and enhance your mood. Try to start a program now if you haven’t already — particularly if you’re prone to seasonal depression.
So-called “green exercise” — or getting fit outdoors — increases your self-esteem and decreases negative moods even more effectively than sweat alone. As long as the weather permits, take your jog outside instead of hitting the treadmill.
5. Reconnect With Loved Ones
Maybe you felt lonely before the pandemic started. Nearly half of all Americans report struggling with this emotion.
Perhaps your sense of isolation coincided with shelter-in-place orders — extroverts seem to struggle most with the decreased contact. Why not reconnect with loved ones? You can set up Zoom meetings for free or use an old-fashioned pen and paper to write to an elderly relative.
6. Turn Off the News
You probably shouldn’t spend too much time watching the news these days. While many remain glued in hopes of breaking announcements of new stimulus measures, nothing in current events seems encouraging. The pandemic continues, the sky in California is the wrong color — it’s all nightmare fuel.
Protect your mental health by flipping off the broadcast. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes each morning and night to check — then click out of social media, too.
Volunteering boosts positive brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. It’s like taking an antidepressant without seeing a doctor for a prescription.
If you don’t feel comfortable going out in public with strangers, why not look for virtual opportunities. You could write to an inmate or phone bank for a political candidate whom you support.
8. Make Plans for the Future
While it seems impossible to believe, there will be life after COVID-19. Why not boost your mental health by making plans?
If you work from home and can take on additional hours, why not save up for a vacation? If that seems too crazy due to financial constraints, you can still plan a bash for when gatherings of more than ten resume.
9. Create a Cozy Retreat
Take a clue from the Danes and Norwegians, who are far happier than Americans on average. They practice hygge, which refers to creating an atmosphere of cozy contentment.
With fall on the way, mix up a giant pot of soup or chili to keep warm in the crockpot. Line your couches with cozy blankets and throw pillows for napping and keep a few books scattered on end tables. If you have a fireplace, clean it out and get it ready for the coming cold and nights of hot cocoa.
10. Give Yourself a Break
Let’s be real for a moment — 2020 has been a year most would rather forget. With all the additional stress, you might feel overwhelmed. It’s natural and isn’t a sign of deteriorating mental health.
However, you do need to give yourself a break. The laundry won’t become wrinkled beyond repair if you leave it in the dryer overnight instead of struggling to fold it at 10 p.m. Give yourself a break and respect your body’s need to rest on occasion.
Boost Your Mental Health This Fall With These 10 Tips
2020 might go down in history as the year of the most mental disorders. Do what you can to protect your psychological health by following the ten tips above.