5 Tips for Managing Mental Health in 2020

COVID-19 has taken a huge toll not just on the world’s physical health but on our mental health too. Every day feels like the Sunday scaries as we are consumed by dread and uncertainty over the virus. Quarantine and social isolation has limited the amount of time we spend with friends and family. Shattered economies, unemployment, and financial insecurity has increased feelings of stress across the globe. And the public’s anxiety is on high alert as we worry about ourselves and our loved ones catching coronavirus.

More than 30% of adults in the United States reported experiencing stress, anxiety, and great sadness since the coronavirus outbreak began in 2020. And workers across several countries—including in the United States—reported difficulty concentrating and taking longer to do tasks. The amount of American adults experiencing stress and worry rose sharply during the first half of March 2020, just as the coronavirus outbreak began in the U.S. Worry and stress are expected emotions during times of uncertainty and instability—like a pandemic. So, if you are having trouble managing your stress and emotions, consider the following self-care strategies to help you better cope this year and reach your mental health goals.

1. Fill your home with plants.

House plants can have a powerful impact on our psyche. They can promote mindfulness, boost our moods with their beauty, and connect us to nature. Keeping plants in your home may also help reduce anxiety and increase joy. We often fill our homes with family photos, mementos, art, and other things that make us happy and are beautiful to look at. House plants can have this effect, too, by adding something aesthetically pleasing and full of life to your space. New plants can brighten your home and make it feel more cozy and welcoming.

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Most house plants only need indirect sunlight and water once a week, so they are easy to care for. If you’re a pet owner, then you’ll need to make sure you have safe plants for your furry friends. According to the ASPCA, orchids, thyme, rosemary, oregano, Boston ferns, Christmas cactus, spider plants, and African violets are all cat friendly house plants. It’s best to keep house plants out of a pet’s reach. While succulents make great house plants, some like aloe vera, are actually toxic plants to animals. If you’re looking for low maintenance, pet-friendly succulents, then seek out blue echeveria and ghost plant instead.

2. Try CBD for stress relief.

Herbal remedies and products made from natural ingredients are becoming more and more popular nowadays. Many people are looking to treat chronic conditions or manage stress without the side effects of taking prescription medications. Wellness alternatives for over-the counter and prescription medications like CBD can help with some medical problems and may reduce anxiety. CBD stands for cannabidiol and is derived from the hemp plant. The cannabis plant is made up of more than 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids including Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. Unlike its cousin, THC, CBD products don’t produce a psychoactive high, so you can take it without worrying about becoming intoxicated.

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Reducing anxiety and depression, improving heart health, and alleviating inflammation and pain are just some of the purported health benefits of CBD. The CBD industry has skyrocketed in the last few years (partially because of the legalization of marijuana in certain states). Now, a wide selection of CBD products are sold in stores and available online from CBD companies. You can try CBD gummies, tinctures, edibles, and CBD oil. You can add CBD oil to your morning coffee or chew on CBD gummies throughout the day. They typically come in a variety of flavors as well so you have lots of options to choose from. However, keep in mind that CBD is not widely available across the U.S. since the marijuana plant is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug federally and therefore illegal in some states. Depending upon the state you live in, you may not have access to CBD products.

3. Seek a therapist for professional help.

Sometimes an emotional slump can be a result of negative life circumstances like COVID-19. But sometimes it could be a sign of a larger issue. If you are experiencing increased fatigue, hopelessness, have sleep issues like insomnia or are sleeping too much, have a loss of appetite, and are unable to find joy in activities you used to love, then you might have an undiagnosed mental illness and need professional help from a licensed psychologist.

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If you are suffering from mental illness such as anxiety disorders or possibly have a more serious medical condition, then seek out a doctor’s advice on treatment options. Make an appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist in Washington DC for psychotherapy or psychiatric treatment. Find someone you can connect with and who has years of experience in treating psychiatric disorders. Before doing so, check with your insurance plan to see what mental health options are covered under your health care coverage. You might be prescribed medication or undergo psychotherapy treatments like cognitive behavior therapy with a trained clinician. Taking medication or going to therapy is nothing to be ashamed of and may help you better manage your anxiety and stress.

4. Meditate every day.

Meditation can greatly reduce emotional distress and anxiety. Meditating for 10 to 20 minutes every day may boost your mood, encourage mindfulness, and promote a sense of calm and tranquility, according to a variety of scientific studies. It may also improve your focus and concentration and help you to relax better. Meditation might seem boring or unachievable, but it’s simply the practice of clearing your mind and finding inner peace.

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There are many meditation techniques, so you don’t need to limit yourself to just one method. Explore different types of meditation—like transcendental meditation, mantra meditation, and movement meditation—and see what works best for you. You can use a meditation pillow or other fancy props or just sit in a cross-legged position on your bedroom floor. It’s best to sit up, as opposed to lying down, during meditation to avoid falling asleep. Free guided meditations are available on YouTube to help you get started with your practice. You can also rely on meditation apps like Headspace to help you get centered as well.

5. Write in your journal.

Keeping a journal is a great way to reflect on your thoughts and practice gratitude. By regularly writing in a journal, you can better sort out your emotions and make sense of what you are going through. If you’re not comfortable talking to someone about emotional issues, then opening up to paper and pen might be the better route for you. You can pick up a journal or notebook at any bookstore. You can start by simply writing your thoughts down freely in your journal—stream of consciousness style. Or if you are looking for something more organized, you can jot down a few things you are thankful for every day in a list format.

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Writing down what you’re grateful for can help remind you of your blessings and focus less on the bad stuff. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate list, even being thankful for clean water, a roof over your head, and food in your fridge can be incredibly grounding. Daily gratitude exercises like this may help you become a more positive and resilient person.