Staying mentally healthy is a difficult part of life and something that everyone struggles with at one time or another. With the unique challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, staying mentally healthy is more important than ever, and in some ways, it’s more difficult than ever. While there is hope at the end of the proverbial tunnel, the end of the pandemic may not be the end of your mental health challenges.
The Covid-19 Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic changed our way of life, and those changes had real effects on mental health. For some, quarantine was a time of introspection and peace. For others, it was a painful experience of fear and isolation. And for most, it was a disruption to our daily routine, our social calendars, and our physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health. While the end is in sight, as vaccines are being distributed on a wide scale, the impact of Covid-19 will be felt for years to come – especially for those who were already struggling with their mental health before the pandemic and even for those who, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, began experiencing mental health problems of their own.
First off, I want to say that struggling with mental health problems is normal. It is something that everyone experiences in some way or another. It is our very own, personal interaction with the shared human experience of sadness, loss, and being overwhelmed. Yet, what happens when there is no one to share the experience with? For many of us who cope with our own internal struggles by surrounding ourselves with friends, family, coworkers, and strangers on the street, the Covid-19 pandemic upended that coping mechanism and, instead, left many of us to cope on our own, without others and without help.
This newfound isolation is not new to many of those struggling with mental health problems. Many people can feel alone and isolated even when surrounded by others, and some simply don’t have anyone to look to or lean on as they pedal through life. The Covid-19 pandemic distanced us socially, but in a way, it allowed each of us to see what life is like for those who truly are alone and isolated from others, even without an ongoing pandemic.
Mental Health in 2021
As we collectively look toward the end of Covid-19, or at least the end of worldwide lockdown, it can be helpful to perform a personal inventory of your mental health. Consider asking yourself the following questions:
- How did the pandemic affect my mental health?
- Are there any lessons that I learned during the pandemic that I can use to better my life going forward?
- What bad habits were exacerbated by the pandemic?
- What good habits did I gain during the pandemic?
- Are there things that I used to do before the pandemic that I now know that I no longer need?
There are many more questions to be asked, and those are just exemplary ways to start thinking about post-pandemic life and how you can ensure that you keep the good things you’ve taken on in the past year and leave the bad ones behind.
As part of your personal inventory, it can be helpful to choose who you let back into your life. For some of us, distancing ourselves from family and friends may have been the healthiest thing that we could have done. And for others, reconnecting with those people may be as well. Try thinking about what you want to do instead of what you think you should do. When a thought comes in, in which you say “I should do this” or “I should do that,” you may want to take a moment to discern what motivated that thought.
Other ways to promote good mental health in 2021 include getting outside, being active, focusing on nutrition, setting a sleep schedule, taking time away from your electronic devices, and setting a time to meditate in whichever way works best for you. Have hope in the post-Covid world, and use this opportunity as a time to make a positive step forward. You deserve it, and your mental health will thank you. This cannot solve all of your problems, and you cannot simply choose to be happy, but your choices can often help lead you on the path toward happiness. For those who do have mental health problems and don’t know what to do or where to turn, reaching out to a therapist is always a great first step. Most people cannot do it alone. So don’t try to. You’re worth it.