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It’s clear by now that this decade is the easiest to handle. We’re nearly a year into a global pandemic that has shaken the very foundations of our society – from how we work, interact with community, and raise our children. Everyone has faced hard choices this past year and has had to rise to new challenges.
A common ‘20s theme is lack of stability – finances, future plans, mental and physical health have all been less than certain for so many people. As a parent, childcare instability and lack of socialization can make all of those areas even more anxiety-provoking.
It’s totally normal that this would take a toll on your mental health. It’s been an exhausting, unprecedented time. Last spring, it might have been easier to appreciate the silver linings of pandemic life. More time with family. Less time in traffic. A new opportunity to slow down and rediscover hobbies or interests.
But it’s been nearly a year and the pandemic fatigue is real. That initial burst of decluttering is undone by spontaneous Amazon purchases. You miss your morning commute by now, craving that time to yourself to listen to your favorite podcast. And Zoom get-togethers have gotten old.
You might not have the energy for New Year’s resolutions in 2021 – and that’s okay. Just doing your best to keep your chin up during all of this is enough. But there ARE things you can do to support your mental and physical health going forward. Why not take the new year as an invitation to simply be kinder to yourself? Here are 10 low-stress, effective ways to give yourself some self-love in 2021.
1. Start a Morning Ritual
Start your days off right with a simple morning ritual. Incorporating mindfulness into your day first thing will help you deal with the day’s stresses more gracefully. Here are a few ideas to try:
-Body scan before getting out of bed, noticing any areas holding tension
-5 minutes of deep breathing or meditation
-Simple yoga practice or intuitive stretching
-Listen to a favorite uplifting song
-Set an intention for the day
Play around with these ideas to promote mindfulness and see what works for you. Practicing your morning ritual daily will strengthen your ability to stay calm and grounded no matter what life throw’s you.
2. Stay Hydrated
We all know how important it is to stay hydrated – and it’s still so easy to overlook. Eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day is a good place to start. If you’re pregnant or nursing, it’s even more important to up your water intake. Experts recommend consuming at least half your weight in fluid oz per day during the perinatal period.
It’s common knowledge that proper hydration is essential for physical health – but many people don’t realize how important it is for mental health as well. Brain tissue is about 75% water, and research has linked dehydration to depression and anxiety. Fill your cup by, well, filling (and re-filling) your cup!
3. Slow your Scroll
It’s pretty much impossible to spend more than 30 seconds on a social media app these days without encountering some kind of negative news. Make a commitment to reducing your scrolling time to promote your well-being.
Set a timer or commit to only checking your feed at certain times of the day. Recommit to using social media for its intended purpose – to connect. Instead of mindlessly scrolling, engage with the people promoting positive and useful content on your feed. You’ll feel more connected with your community and you’ll save tons of time to pour back into yourself and your family.
4. Write Snail Mail
Everyone loves a handwritten letter! In this day and age we’re more easily connected to each other than ever, thanks to digital correspondence. But that human connection that we so crave is much better translated in a piece of physical mail. Taking a few minutes to write to friends and family will promote well-being in and of itself, and receiving a response in the mail will brighten your day!
5. Journal Daily
Journaling is known to reduce stress, boost memory and promote self-reflection. Just a few minutes a day to jot down what you are grateful for, what’s on your mind or how you spent your day will do wonders for your mental health.
We are all so ready to put this pandemic behind us, but someday you will be thankful to be able to look back on journal entries and remember the snippets of joy you savored during this difficult season.
6. Make Spa Night a Ritual
Imagine how amazing you would feel if you actually set some time aside each week to pamper yourself. Soothe your worries, and fight against maskne and dry skin from frequent handwashing all at once! It doesn’t have to be elaborate to be effective – here are some simple spa night ideas to incorporate into your routine.
-Take an herbal bath
-Use a deep-conditioning hair mask
-Soak your feet
-Use a facial sheet mask
-Deeply moisturize your hands
Complete your spa night with a screen-free evening, cup of herbal tea and an early bedtime – you’ll feel amazingly recharged in the morning!
7. Recommit to an Exercise Routine
Exercise promotes both physical and mental health – but it can be so hard to get yourself up and moving. If you’re not ready, don’t overwhelm yourself with elaborate routines or lofty resolutions this year. Try to simply commit to moving your body with intention every day and notice how you feel. If you feel overwhelmed, a brisk walk is the perfect place to start. When you focus on exercising to feel good instead of to meet arbitrary goals, it’s easier to stick to it.
8. Try Affirmations
Pandemic life has forced us to wear all the hats. This pressure can easily lead you to feeling burnt out and as if you are not enough. Negative thought patterns can spiral into mental health issues and keep us from feeling and being our best. Fight against this completely normal and understandable habit by using affirmations.
Affirmations are like exercise for our brains, strengthening our mental fortitude and well-being. Start with telling yourself “I am enough” throughout the day. You can say it out loud in the mirror to yourself or write them down where you’ll notice them often. You might feel silly at first, but give it a try. Your brain will thank you!
9. Digitally Declutter
Home decluttering has been all the rage, but digital decluttering is just as important these days. We spend so much of our time and brain power with our devices, and disorganization can lead to unnecessary stress and wasted time. Here are some tips to clean up your digital life:
-clear out all those unread emails in your inbox
-unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters
-organize and update your apps
-clean up your desktop
-turn off unneeded push notifications
Decluttering your digital life will give bring you so much peace of mind!
10. Read for Pleasure
We spend so much time consuming information – but many people admit to hardly ever reading for pleasure, anymore. Try replacing all the time you save from reducing unnecessary screen time with reading for pleasure. Reading a physical book, e-book or audiobook solely for your enjoyment is known to reduce stress and promote creativity and well-being. Even a few minutes a day will make you feel loads better.
2020 was hard. There’s no need to make 2021 even harder by being unkind or neglecting ourselves. With some mindfulness and intention, you can easily make self-care and self-love a regular part of your life. With so many things out of our control in this world, it’s more important than ever to take really good care of ourselves.