By: Shanice J. Douglas-Samuels
I don’t need to parrot what’s already been said by pretty much everyone the world over already, but I’ll say it anyway: 2020 has been the pits. From the fear and loss to the confusion about what the future will look like, it’s been more than rough.
Many of us were already stumbling through life-altering transitions before the introduction of an ongoing global pandemic, so it’s no surprise that we’ve all felt a little frustrated about how to process it all. One good thing that I do want to point out is that, if you’re reading these words right now, then: Congratulations! You’ve made it to 2021!
Your health and wellness practices have probably taken a backseat to the stress of survival, but even that mere survival was achievement enough, so give yourself a pat on the back. As we move ahead into a new year, despite the fact that the pandemic is still raging on (mask up + stay safely distant!), it’s important to arm ourselves with some tools to process whatever 2021 will have in store for us.
Coping Strategies For 2021
Not all coping strategies will have the same effect for everyone, but it’s great to have a bag of useful ‘tricks’ to tap into when you need a little help with navigating your daily life. Below are five coping strategies that we’ve found helpful in the past year, and we think they could possibly come in handy for you too.
It could be as simple as writing down the thoughts foremost on your mind at any point throughout the day, but journaling consistently has been shown to have a significant positive impact on how you manage your mental health. Especially now, it is a simple way to organize our racing thoughts, and hopefully give us a chance to see this unusual global crisis from a different perspective. The best part about journaling is that it doesn’t even have to be written down. You can also explore using thoughtfully-designed journaling cards like these for some quick moments of reflection, by yourself or with a very close loved one.
- ‘Quiet Time’
Having to share a small living space with your loved ones, while mostly a treat, eventually became a bit too much to handle as lockdowns swept our cities. When you get to a point where you can’t even hear yourself think, carve out space for your own version of quiet time. This could look like stuffing (carefully) your ears with earplugs, or listening to calming ambient music while sitting still in a comfortable spot. Add some deep breathing exercises to maximize the impact. This is also a great opportunity to immerse yourself in nature (weather permitting), maybe with an early morning walk around your neighborhood.
- Staying Active
Working up a sweat or (safely) stretching different parts of your body can significantly impact how that same body moves throughout the world. Especially for those of us with a history of anxiety or depression, regular physical activity has been shown to decrease the severity of these symptoms.
- Seeking Professional Help
No matter the slew of coping strategies that we can all cobble together on our own, nothing beats consulting with a professional to really solidify an effective game plan for being proactive with your mental health. Not only is it always the right time to speak with someone who will listen to you without judgment, but you will also benefit from their insights built from years of education and direct experience. Depending on the kind of practitioner you seek out for help, you may get referrals to specialists that would be more helpful, as well as help with developing a more fine-tuned treatment plan for navigating your daily life.
- Connecting With Your Crew
It goes without saying that 2020 definitely lacked the hugs and smiling faces that you may have been used to experiencing in person. Friendships, in whatever form they take for you, will continue to be an essential part of coping with life and all the stressful times that it will inevitably throw at you. After the year we’ve had, take the time to find more unique alternatives to connect with the people you love the most. This could be anything from setting up a virtual Game Night to sending an email or even (gasp!) handwritten notes to keep them in the loop. In whatever way it looks like for you, having a crew of supportive people in your life can lift moods, stave off feelings of loneliness, and offers insight into how we can all get through the hardest of times, together.
Taking Care Of You
The preceding list is in no way exhaustive, but take it as a starting point to explore what could potentially work best for you. The unknown will always be scary. This past year has thrown us for a loop and has left us reeling about what any of our next best steps might possibly be. What remains evergreen, however, is that there are countless unique ways that you can explore to cope with the stresses of life.
What did surviving a full year of a global pandemic teach you about how you cope in uniquely stressful times? Feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear what you have to say!