2020 took a toll on my mental health, as I’m sure it did for all of you. While a new year brings hope, it also has brought on new challenges… as well as some continuing struggles from last year. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic and dealing with a lot of political unrest, and the news seems to get more dark and upsetting every week. I have a lot to be grateful and thankful for, but despite my many blessings, it’s still a stressful time to be alive. Suffering is not a competition – sure, other people have it worse than you/me, but that doesn’t erase our/my pain. In addition to my business taking a hit last year and losing my grandmother, I’ve spent *a lot* of time alone. I live alone and work for myself, so aside from a few socially distanced get togethers each month, some meals out, and some drives down to Austin to see my family, I’ve been pretty isolated. I’ll be the first to say I’m very independent, but all of this alone time definitely takes a toll. If you are also struggling with this, or any other kind of anxiety this time is bringing on, below are some suggestions for shedding the extra weight.
DELETE, DELETE, DELETE
While I’m so grateful for the community I have through this blog and social media, social media has also been a bit of a negative for me over the last year. While I’m used to getting a handful of negative messages every now and then, I feel like 2020 brought the worst out of everyone online… and it’s not just concerning current events! Everyone’s feelings and emotions are heightened, and people seem to have an opinion on literally everything. Communication continues to get more and more aggressive, regardless of the topic. In addition to negative commentary, the relentless unsolicited advice as well as intrusive questions can definitely get to you after awhile. As someone whose job revolves around social media, it’s damn near impossible to take a step back even when the environment is toxic.
I used to pride myself on responding to every DM I got on Instagram, even the negative ones, but I’ve since changed my tune. Feedback is always welcome when it’s about my content or my business (I always want to improve so it’s useful for y’all!), but lately it seems people go for the throat and target something personal when they’re trying to tear you down… and perhaps that’s just easy for people to do with me sharing so much about my life online. Either way, I’ve started deleting these kinds of messages instead of engaging with them. At the end of the day, the people sending me those messages are strangers and have no bearing on my life off the internet – there’s simply no point in reading them.
Yasmine Cheyenne shared the following on Instagram last week and it really resonated with me, so I wanted to share it with you:
Feel free to release anyone who thinks it would be better if you were someone else. This isn’t constructive criticism. This isn’t love. Who you are isn’t up for debate or opinion.
While I still get a pang of disappointment when I see a mean DM, I’ve gotten way better at releasing them. Delete it and forget about it. While deleting is what makes sense for me considering my job, for you it might be hitting the unfollow or unsubscribe button for people and accounts who no longer serve you. If you find yourself angry, jealous or depressed after seeing someone’s content on the internet, let them go. Life is too short to continue exposing yourself to people/content who bring you down!
Something that has made me feel a lot less reckless in this crazy time is by organizing various parts of my life. Whether that be cleaning out my garage, setting up my editorial calendar for the month, or creating a meal plan for the week, these organizational tasks give me some semblance of control in an out of control world. As a Type-A gal, this has been helpful to me! While I love a good TV binge day on the couch, I end up getting antsy and usually make myself busy after awhile. If you’re like me, below are some other ideas if you’re looking for productive ways to kill time at home:
- Clean out or color code your closet
- Organize your garage
- Create a weekly or monthly meal plan
- Develop a workout routine
- Clean out or reorganize your fridge/freezers
- Declutter your inbox
- Read a book
- Create a goodie/refreshment basket for delivery/USPS workers
- Plant a garden
- Go through old photos (or print them!) and organize them in albums
- Clean up your computer – delete old files, organize folders, etc
- Start using a gratitude journal
TALK TO SOMEONE
I’ll be the first to admit that I HATE talking on the phone. Hate, hate, hate. But this past year has been unprecedented in that I haven’t been able to see my friends or family very often! Early on in quarantine we were all using House Party and Zoom quite a bit, but that tapered off for my circle awhile back. While I’m usually a big texter, now I find myself wanting to chat on the phone more! Hearing actual laughter (as opposed to a laughing emoji) and having a real conversation has been a great escape at the end of the workday. While I often spend the majority of my walks with Reeses listening to podcasts, now I reserve some of those times for phone calls so I can catch up with my mom, sister or a friend. It’s an instant mood booster!
There have also been a number of great online resources for mental health that have sprung up the last few years. While phoning a friend or family member is wonderful, sometimes you need to chat with a professional for additional support and an unbiased perspective. With shelter-in-place preventing many from visiting therapists in person, you can get real online therapy with a licensed therapist on websites like talkspace and betterhelp! If you’re struggling on your own (or even in a home filled with family!) don’t hesitate to get help if you want/need it!!
FIT IN A WORKOUT, STRETCH OR MEDITATION
Part of why I enjoy working out is that it completely takes my mind off of whatever is worrying me or stressing me out. I can put all of my energy and focus into something that is good for my body and my mind! In addition to being great for strength, mobility and internal health (heart health especially!), working out gives you endorphins – and if you recall from Legally Blonde, endorphins make you happy! With the number of fitness and wellness apps available these days, there’s something for every personality and budget. Peloton and the Calm app both have a variety meditation options if you’re looking to clear your mind and get centered again (calming, happiness, sleep meditations, you name it!). For workouts you can do at home without equipment, try the various workouts on the Peloton app, The Sculpt Society, Obe Fitness and more! Peloton has workouts ranging from five minutes to a full hour, so whatever your schedule, you have time.
STOP WORKING ON WEEKENDS
As someone who has always worked from home and generally lets work bleed into the weekend, I’ve been way better lately about not bringing my laptop downstairs with me once it hits five o’clock on Friday. In order to do this, I have to dedicate more time during the week to get ahead for Monday’s post and newsletter, but I’ve found the extra time worth it to completely log off on the weekend. Sure, I’m still on my phone quite a bit, but being away from my computer has definitely made a difference! That way I can fully relax if I’d like, or at least give myself time to do other things I’ve been wanting to do outside of work. Even though I don’t have a lot of exciting things to look forward to on the weekends these days, it helps separate my work and non-work life for a better balance.
While getting a dog was a huge life adjustment for me (especially the first few months!!), it couldn’t have come at a better time than during the pandemic. I take Reeses on two long walks a day, which forces me to get outside for a little fresh air and to get my body moving. Even now when it’s super cold, I enjoy the escape to either chat on the phone, or listen to a good podcast or audiobook. Since I already work out and work at home, I don’t really have a reason to get outside during the week. I know that if I didn’t have Reeses, I wouldn’t get outside nearly as much – and I think I’d be feeling way more cabin fever if I didn’t take these daily walks with her. I highly recommend taking a quick (or long!) walk if you need a break from your house, some fresh air or a little vitamin D.