This message of #WeeklyWisdom is brought to you by Moira McJury from Alcohol and Drug Council of Tompkins County, a proud partner of the Community Coalition for Healthy Youth.
Between election season and the holidays, this time of year can be emotionally challenging for many. Elections signify major change, which can be a great source of stress. Holidays can be particularly difficult for a variety of reasons, including mental health, loss, and finances. While disappointment, loss, and change are a normal part of life, these emotions and experiences still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress. At times like these, prioritizing self-care is of the upmost importance. While it can be easy to let it fall to the wayside, making time each day to check in with yourself and focus on your mental health can be the first step to managing difficult emotions.
In the same way that physically healthy people are better able to bounce back from illness or injury, strong mental health may help in bouncing back from adversity, trauma, and stress. This skill is called resilience. Emotional resilience can help to equip individuals with the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook. Below are a few everyday tips to focus on self-care and improving resiliency and mental health:
- Practice self-care and make yourself a priority.
The first step in practicing self-care is to take care of your body. Do your best to eat a healthy diet, exercise in a way that is accessible to you, and try to get enough sleep.
- Disconnect from electronics and social media.
Consider taking time to unplug and disconnect from the constant stream of emails and social media alerts each day. Adding time free of electronics to your day will allow you to interact with people face to face and will help reduce the many negative emotions that social media can often stir-up.
- Engage in activities that provide meaning.
Partake in activities that make you feel happy, productive, and challenge your creativity. Engage in a hobby that brings you joy, be it drawing, taking an exercise class, cooking or caring for a pet.
- Spend time with loved ones.
Spending quality time with those who matter to you can make you feel good. If you can do so safely during the global pandemic, prioritize time with loved ones. If you cannot be with them in person, consider using a video chatting platform like Zoom or just giving them a call.
Helping others or the community can enrich your life and make you happier. There are countless individual and group volunteer opportunities to explore. Schools, places of worship, nonprofits, and charitable organizations of all sorts depend on volunteers for help in any capacity.
- Engage in meditation and/or mindfulness.
Relaxation exercises can improve your state of mind and outlook on life and help you to feel calmer. There are tons of free guided meditation videos for beginners available online.
- Avoid heavy substance use.
Some people use alcohol and other drugs to “self-medicate.” However, substance use typically makes problems worse. Excessive drinking and drug abuse may get in the way of your ability to function at work or school, maintain a stable home life, handle life’s difficulties, and relate to others. It is important to keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs.
- Get help from a licensed mental health professional when and if you need it.
Seeking help is a sign of strength. Just like our physical health, it requires effort to build and maintain mental health. Connecting with a mental health professional is an important part of the process.
Most importantly, never be afraid to ask for help. There are so many free, 24/7 mental health, crisis, and support hotlines that are available if you are ever in need.
-National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
-Crisis Text Line: Text 741-741 with the message “START”
-LGBTQ National Youth Talk Line: 1-800-246-PRIDE (800-246-7743)
-Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
-GLBT National Help Center: 1-888-THE-GLNH (888-843-4564)
-Crisis Call Center: 1-800-273-8255
-Samaritan’s Crisis Hotline: 1-212-673-3000
-National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
-National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7223
-National Crime Victim Helpline: 1-800-394-2255
We are all in this together.