Making a New Year resolution? You only need one.

By Mel Sim

This should top your list for 2021.

So… how was your 2020? Challenging? Eventful yet uneventful?

I get you. So does the rest of the world. Needless to say, the pandemic has thrown a HUGE curveball our way. Who knew that March would be the last you’d see of your friends and family for a long time…

And guess what, MCO 2.0, guys. Just when we thought the light is finally shining at the end of the tunnel, it gets dark again.

You know what else can get dark? Your mental health. Some of us may suffer an episode or two of feeling completely down about the state of the world but there are others amongst us where the pandemic has forced them into a really dark hole… and it’s difficult to get out, what with the alarming rise in cases, sudden lockdowns, and who knows what else will happen in the next few months. Just when you thought it was safe to come out of 2021, 2021 strikes.

To say the whole pandemic has been tough on your mental health is an understatement. But at the same time, it has also allowed us to reflect on what really matters in life. And that is to keep safe, healthy and happy. There’s never been a more important time to focus on your mental health.

The good news is there has been a lot of advocacy for mental health in light of COVID-19. Some companies have also come to realise that not only should their employees be healthy physically but also mentally. Feeling guilty about not being in the mood to do work? You are likely to get away with it now considering the challenges you might be experiencing from WFH and isolation – but don’t make it your excuse always!

If there is one resolution you need to make for 2021, it is to look out for your mental health. Bear in mind that neglecting your mental health can result in physical repercussions like weight problems, weak immunity, fatigue. And some people might not even realise that they need a mental health checkup, or maybe they are under denial, which is a first sign of poor mental health. Other not so obvious signs of poor mental health? Low energy, problems sleeping, reduced ability to concentrate, excessive fears, extreme mood changes, major changes in eating habits, and excessive anger to name a few. Sometimes, it can also surface as a physical problem like stomach pain, back pains, headaches and other unexplained pains.

Whether or not you’re experiencing all of the above, why not take a moment (or two – nobody’s counting) to keep your mental health in check with these tips:

#1 Get outside
OK, we can’t exactly go outside outside but sometimes all you need to do is shut down the laptop and step out of the house, even if it is just to have a short walk around your garden or around the block. Natural sunlight and fresh air will do a lot of good for your mental health. Plus, the break and change of scenery help as well.

#2 Meditate
Studies have shown that meditation can reduce depression and anxiety as well as help you cope with stress more effectively. Meditation is a simple act of sitting still for at least five minutes and focusing on the present – your surrounding, your body, your breathing. Doing this can help to clear your mind of worries and give you a sense of being grounded and in control.

#3 Journal
Remember how when you were a teenager you were encouraged to write about your feelings in a journal? You can do the same now. Why does it work? Your journal acts as an outlet for you to write down your thoughts and feelings without being judged rather than keeping it all bottled inside. 20 minutes a day can have a significant impact on your mood. You don’t have to do it every day; just whenever you are feeling stressed or if something is troubling you.

#4 Have a routine
There’s nothing normal about 2020 but you can normalise it, even for 2021. So your office is no longer that cubicle but the kitchen table. Why not make it feel familiar by putting up your to-do list on the wall opposite you or set it your home work table the way your office workspace looks? Eat your lunch at the same time, set your clock to ring when it’s time to call it a day, read a chapter every night! A routine helps give you purpose and with it, you won’t feel lost. This is especially important for your mental health as it gives you something to look forward too.

#5 Self care
Love gardening? No reason to stop it, even if work gets busy. Like baking cakes? Make it a every Sunday thing. Intrigued by the art of coffee? Why not check out YouTube tutorials? The point is to do things that make you smile… and that sometimes is all you need to keep your mental health in check.

How are you really feeling about 2021? Let us know.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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