5 Ways To Prioritize Your Mental Health In The New Year
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We know that the ball drop on New Year’s Eve didn’t magically wipe away the events or emotions of 2020, but we’re here to say that we are excited about 2021 and all the new opportunities it will bring. Why? Because this year we are choosing wellness and joy….and we encourage you to do the same!
While the holiday season can be a crazy mix of excitement and exhaustion that can deplete our mental health, we hope that the past few weeks were a time of relaxation and respite for you. As Endeavors’ Senior Director of Clinic Operations, Dr. Jill Palmer, says, “Mental health is an active process that we all must maintain, and especially [in 2020], we have all had situations that impacted our resolve, resiliency, and our reserves of health.”
She continues, “I believe the holiday season (and beyond) provides us with a time to aggressively and unapologetically focus on JOY. Finding joy in our lives fills up our mental health buckets. And we need our buckets filled. Find joy, spread joy, give joy away, and you will get back tenfold what you put out. This is mental health…this is wellness.”
But we shouldn’t live life-saving joy only for special occasions. In this spirit, we are challenging our community to make JOY a focal point of 2021. We believe that joy isn’t something you chase; it’s something you choose to cultivate and prioritize.
Here are five ways to help you fill your bucket, cultivate JOY, and focus on wellness in 2021:
1. Keep Your Counseling Appointments
After the bustle of the holidays, it can be easy to fall out of your regular wellness and/or counseling routine. But the last thing you want is to ignore underlying issues that will manifest after the holidays. Make 2021 the year of YOU. Joyful, healthy YOU. Keeping your therapy appointments in the new year can help manage the additional demands and emotions of the season and start the new year off feeling accomplished and successful in maintaining your healthy practices.
Endeavors offers mental health counseling for post-9/11 Veterans and military families through our Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics in San Antonio, El Paso, and Killeen and we believe cost should never be a barrier to care at our Cohen Clinics. During this pandemic, our staff is offering services 100% remotely, so you and your family can continue to receive high-quality care via face-to-face, secure video therapy from the comfort of your home.
2. Get Outside
Did you know three or more movement sessions per week (45-60 minutes each) can help manage depression? Regular exercise and fresh air can help alleviate stress, counteract social isolation, and even decrease suicidal behaviors and ideation.
This year, make a promise to yourself to make movement a priority. Start your day with a morning walk, take the kids hiking, or challenge your family members to a push-up competition on Zoom! Exercise should be fun! Getting creative with your movement throughout the day can boost your mood, increase productivity, and enhance your focus. (And yes, learning a new TikTok dance counts as exercise!)
3. Step Away From Social Media
Social media has a wonderful ability to connect people and share information, but it can also be consuming and can instill a need to “measure up.” This can lead to increased feelings of inadequacy, social isolation, and anxiety. The key to social media is knowing when to log off. This year, set social media time limits for yourself and commit to leaving your phone face-down for at least a few hours a day. Whoever you’re spending your day with — your family, coworkers, friends, pets, or self — engaging with them in real-time is more important than checking stories and feeds.
4. Stay Connected…The Old Fashioned Way
Write someone a letter! Rather than sliding into a friend’s DMs or sending a selfie, why not write them a letter? Receiving a letter in the mail can make people feel extra special because they know you took the time to write something personal and meaningful! But letter writing isn’t just for the recipient — mental health counselors and clinicians cite letter writing as a therapeutic activity because it is a process of reflection, self-expression, and sharing. Putting your thoughts on paper can feel like you’re cleansing them from your head and your heart, and the act of putting pen to paper can help you slow down and say exactly what you want to say.
5. Spread Acts Of Kindness
Have you heard of Helper’s High? It’s that feeling you get after helping someone or doing a good deed and it is 100% dopamine. Humans are naturally wired to help each other, which is why doing acts of kindness can actually lower stress levels. This year, you can help others and help yourself by donating to a charitable organization, volunteering virtually, writing letters of thanks to the frontline and essential workers, or even helping a neighbor in need with yard work. There are so many ways to spread love and kindness!
So, if you’re looking to give your dopamine a boost, consider making a donation to Endeavors! We accept monetary and goods donations year-round to support our programs like Veteran Supportive Services, Homelessness Prevention, Hurricane Recovery, and our Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics.
About Endeavors and Cohen Veterans Network
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.
Cohen Veterans Network is a 501(c)(3) national not for profit philanthropic network of mental health clinics for post-9/11 veterans and their families. CVN focuses on improving mental health outcomes via a network of outpatient mental health clinics for veterans and their families in high-need communities, in which trained clinicians deliver holistic, evidence-based care to treat mental health conditions. The network currently has 19 clinics in operation serving veterans and their families across the country. Learn more about Cohen Veterans Network.