Remember how the closing days of 2020 found us filled with anticipation that 2021 would see an end to the COVID-19 pandemic? That soon, life would return to a very-near-normal state? But, unfortunately, while the year indeed had its ups, the conclusion of 2021 found too many areas of the country struggling with high rates of COVID infections and hospitalizations. So we stepped into 2022, longing to be hopeful but fearful of more dashed expectations.
All of this uncertainty continues to batter our collective mental health. The stress, the burnout, the isolation, and the disappointments of the past nearly two years, have culminated in a perfect recipe for a downward-spiraling mental health scenario. In case you should ever need such a recipe. And now, experts warn that the impact on our wellbeing will linger long after the COVID pandemic itself has ended.
That’s why many are promoting a kinder, gentler, more compassionate approach for 2022. Rather than charging full steam ahead into the new year with a lengthy list of lofty goals/changes/expectations, choose to be kind to yourself instead. Recognize that mental wellbeing begins with the relationship you have with yourself.
The Mental Health Foundation recommends these five habits to improve your relationship with yourself in 2022.
- Invest in yourself by spending 15-30 minutes each day doing something you enjoy.
- When your inner critic kicks into a fault-finding mode, write down positive things about yourself.
- Take on the role of being your own best friend. Be kind and supportive when you stumble or feel you have failed.
- Do something to wind down and relax at the end of each day.
- Take a few minutes to appreciate the small wins you have achieved each day.
Here are some additional be-kind-to-yourself tips to help you improve your mental and physical health in 2022.
1. Take short daytime naps
Permission to take a nap. What adult won’t love that? Yes, daytime napping is healthy when the shut-eye lasts approximately twenty-five minutes. Longer naps can leave a person feeling more fatigued. But short naps relax and recharge the body and mind. You don’t even have to fall asleep – just close your eyes and rest your body and mind.
2. Seek the company of others
Humans are social beings meant to thrive on connections and belonging. But thanks to social distancing, many of those connections vanished. Work-from-home and the loss of a social calendar stole these once-taken-for-granted opportunities from us. While nothing replaces the warmth of a friend’s hug, we can remain connected thanks to technology. So, be the initiator of a video chat, telephone call, or even an email conversation. Don’t let the isolation of the pandemic, and now, the cold of winter, keep you from connecting with people.
3. Practice forgiveness
When we cling to negative feelings such as anger, resentment, and disappointment, they become a weight upon our hearts, minds, and even our bodies. The burden can become so heavy that it leads to chronic depression, anxiety, and increased stress. It’s a challenge, but letting go of the negativity is a choice that will create space for understanding, compassion, and empathy. Peace of mind can then flood the headspace once filled with negativity. Notice the guidance is to practice forgiveness because it can be difficult. But remember, forgiveness doesn’t mean the hurt or wrong didn’t happen; it simply means you no longer choose to hold onto it.
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