The typical excitement that comes with the new year may fade for many before the ball drops. While we’re all glad to say goodbye to a pandemic-filled year, it’ll be a few more seasons before we even begin to return to some sort of “normal.” What is “normal” anyway? Nobody knows yet.
And if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is the importance of emotional health and well-being and the impact of trauma on your psyche. So, how do you recharge your spirit for another year when you’re already feeling pandemic fatigue? You can restore your mental strength with inspiring ideas that transform you into a world of new possibilities.
Recharge your mind, body, and spirit
First, it’s ok to not be ok.
If you’re in need of emotional first aid, you are not alone.
It’s been a wild year of emotions and a time filled with uncertainty rattling everyone’s mental health.
Try these 6 powerful ways to refill a cup drained by the challenges of the novel coronavirus.
- Practice “emotional first aid.”
- Calm your mind with tools like music.
- Use exercise to channel your emotions.
- Expand your horizons by learning new skills and exploring different cultures.
- Find purpose in life.
- Find gratitude every day.
Take your journey one step further by watching inspiring TED Talks that build on these concepts and move your mental strength forward.
Gain mental stamina with “emotional first aid”
Psychologist Guy Winch uses the term “emotional first aid.” It’s a way of treating our mental health. Something he notes we do infrequently.
In a TED Talk, Winch talks about how we favor the body’s health over that of the mind. When we don’t feel good, we typically go to a doctor focused on physical ailments. We take care of our physical wounds but often neglect our emotional injuries.
Collectively as a society and as individuals, our mental health has not been prioritized in a manner equal to our physical well-being.
You can change that with an emotional first aid kit.
Before you brush this off as just another thing you need to do, consider how important it is for the times we live in.
Science tells us social distancing makes us physically safer. At the same time, it’s silently impacting long-term health. As Winch points out, research shows loneliness doesn’t just make you sad. It can kill you. It’s as bad as smoking cigarettes.
Some researchers say the invisible impact of this invisible threat is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having an alcohol disorder. It’s also thought loneliness is twice as harmful as obesity.
Are you ready to do something about it? Watch this inspiring TED Talk on emotional first aid.
An exercise to change your emotional outlook
Ready to change your outlook on the pandemic?
Ready to start the new year off with a positive outlook?
Stop everything you’re doing when you begin thinking about the lost sense of “normal.” Take a two-minute break. Stop replaying events and stop any negative self-talk.
As Winch says, treat yourself with compassion. Just like a real friend would treat you.
Distract your mind. When you take a mental break, you break the urge to worry about something you can’t control and focus on what you can control. That’s your outlook on life.
Every time your mind starts to go to that negative place full of worry, repeat the words STOP!
You have the power to create new neural pathways in your brain and develop a more positive perspective. It’ll make your mind and body more resilient too.
Ways to calm your mind
Is your mind still racing?
Turn on some music. It’s the universal language.
Music can be entertaining, relaxing, and energizing all at the same time.
Lyrics are packed full of relatable emotions and thoughts of good times and bad. The beats are inspiring and motivating.
There’s a story in every song. Draw inspiration from those to change your story.
Make it one of action rather than inaction, and positivity rather than negativity.
Music can not only change your mood, but your health too. It can lower stress, boost your mood, lower symptoms of depression, and improve sleep.
Music can be cathartic. Tap into it when you’re feeling down or need a distraction.
Feel like an underdog? There’s a song for that. Ready for a change? It’s “Gonna Come,” as Sam Cooke says.
No matter how you’re feeling, there’s probably a sound for that emotion.
And music also reminds us that others have felt the same way we do.
Rise Up | Andra Day
I Was Here | Beyonce
Memories | Maroon 5
Yes We Can | will.i.am
Underdog | Alicia Keys
Glory | Common and John Legend
Everything’s Ok – Lenka
A Change Is Gonna Come | Sam Cooke
Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac
Motown Jazz – Smooth Jazz Music and Jazz Instrumental Music for Relaxing
I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Need more ideas? Here’s a list of other ways to calm your mind during difficult times.
Use exercise to channel your emotions
Exercise can provide both immediate and long-lasting benefits.
Physical activity impacts your mood, energy, and focus. Exercise offers brain-changing benefits too. It can help to protect us from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
You can move your body as a form of emotional first aid – to distract your mind when it starts to wander to a world of worry, to dance out nervous energy, and to box out your frustrations.
Suzuki’s research found exercise improves your ability to shift and focus attention for at least two hours.
Watch her inspiring TED Talk.
Ready to change the anatomy, physiology, and function of your brain?
Find an exercise program that works for your fitness level, and that energizes you. Choose something you look forward to, so it’s not a chore. That way, you’re more likely to stick with the program over time.
Any type of exercise is better than none. Find a combination of cardio-pumping workouts and exercises that soothe and strengthen your mind and body. They may include Yoga Nidra, Pilates, Qigong, or Tai Chi.
There are exercises for all ages and skill levels, including seated yoga. Find one that works for you, and consult a doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Which of these workouts will you choose to support your brain health and physical well-being?
3 Fast & Fun Miles | Walk at Home Workout
Daily Stretching Routine
30-Minute HIIT Cardio Workout with Warm Up – No Equipment at Home
Gentle Seated Yoga | *Beginner Friendly* Perfect for All Levels
Yoga for Concentration and Mental Focus | Yoga with Adreine
Evening Qigong to Relax Body and Mind | Qigong with Kseny
Kids Dance – Workout
Cosmic Kids Yoga
10 Minute Workout African Cardio Burn with Billy Blanks Jr.
If you’re in menopause, try one of these specifically-designed exercise videos for women in that stage of life.
Nourish your mind, body, and spirit for your life circumstances.
Learn new skills and explore different cultures
The beauty of our world right now is that there are numerous opportunities to try something new. Universities and professionals in their craft are opening the doors for new possibilities with free courses to help you learn a new skill and expand your horizons.
Educate yourself about health inequities and racial injustice. How did we get to this place? Why are African American and Latinx men and women disproportionately impacted by COVID-19?
Take a walk on the Civil Rights Trail to understand where we are as a nation and how we can move forward.
How about expanding your cultural knowledge while moving? Choreographer, educator, and TED Fellow Camille A. Brown takes you on a visual history of social dance with 25 moves.
Try something new. Push yourself outside your comfort zone.
Find purpose in life
Stacey Abrams, the first Black woman in United States history to be nominated for Governor by a major political party didn’t let setbacks hold her back. In fact, they inspired her.
Understand why you want something. “Be aggressive about your ambition,” Abrams said.
Ready for the three questions to ask yourself about everything you do? Ready to find that passion and fire in your belly again? Get energized for the new year and a new you.
Watch this inspiring TED Talk from Stacey Abrams to learn the three questions to ask yourself about everything you do.
Now that you know what excites you, focus on it.
A virus likely limited the goals you set a year ago. That doesn’t mean you can’t still try to accomplish them. Now that you’ve gained a new perspective on life and what “normal” really means, make adjustments to your goals to fit current and evolving circumstances.
Is it a new cause that you’re going to support with financial and physical action? Are you going to learn a new craft or skill? Maybe you’ve always wanted to dance like a professional ballerina. Take Online Ballet Master Classes with Misty Copeland.
Don’t forget those 3 questions to ground yourself about everything you do.
Be intentional about your goals and have fun along the way.
Find gratitude every day
To quote Louis Armstrong’s inspiring song from earlier, we live in a “wonderful world.” Are you starting to find “hidden blessings” in the crazy life we all live right now?
Challenge yourself to find those blessings every day in the new year. Start with a gratitude journal. It only takes a pen, paper, your mind, and heart to get started. You have all of that in your home.
When you have greater satisfaction with your life, it means you’re more likely to extend that grace to others. Sometimes it takes a life moment to open your mind to the possibility and power of the words “thank you.”
Brian Doyle’s perspective on life changed when it flashed before him after a New Year’s celebration. That set the stage for a revelation that came months later on Thanksgiving when he asked, “Why not try 365 days of ‘thank you?'”
He talks about “365 Days of Thank You” in a TedxYouth talk.
There is power in those two simple words. How will you use them to inspire your mind and someone else?
Try these ideas for finding gratitude during difficult times.
Don’t let a pandemic define you. You have the power to come out of this stronger and more resilient so you’re prepared the next time life throws you a curveball.
Ready for the new year, and a new you?
(Personal Insight MD, LLC, PeopleTweaker, and Insight MD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are feeling extreme anger with thoughts and actions harmful to yourself or others such as physical/verbal abuse or acts of violence, find yourself self-medicating with alcohol, illicit drugs, etc., expressing your anger in such a way that threaten relationships or your job, etc. seek professional help immediately and call 911 if necessary if you find yourself in an out-of-control situation or have the urge to hurt yourself or others.)