2020 and Mental Health

2020 has been a pretty harrowing year, hasn’t it? First, Australia was on fire. Then, COVID-19 spread all around the world. For a brief moment, we had murder hornets. And now, we have civil unrest in the United States and throughout the world, and that is on top of the still-existing COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are still here on this earth, then I congratulate you. You have survived some very hostile conditions that you may never experience in your lifetime again once this is all over, if the arc bends toward justice. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back or fistbump someone in your household. We are still in the midst of some extremely tough times, and you have persevered.

I am going to voice a controversial opinion: Just because you are living through a pandemic and civil unrest, does not mean it is good to throw out the progress you made on your mental health.  Taking care of your mental health is a lifelong process, and it does not pause — not even during the toughest times of our lives. In fact, working on your mental health is even more important during these times.

You may have seen memes and images all over the Internet that basically state that it is OK to throw healthy eating and other forms of self-care out the window just because life is especially hard right now. But eating nothing but junk food will zap any motivation you have, and it will make things worse for you. Your brain needs nutrients — eat those fruits and vegetables, or whatever your doctor or nutritionist recommends. A little bit of junk food will not ruin you, but a LOT of junk food can make you sluggish and even more emotionally unstable. You can’t fight the good fight when all you feel like doing is napping all day.

Self-improvement must not take a pause either. If you want systemic racism to end, you need to do your part to improve parts of yourself so you stop contributing to the problem. If you are white, this is especially important because we are the ones who are responsible for improving society for BIPOC. It all starts with you. Improve yourself so you are more able to improve society.

It’s OK if you’re not always in fight or self-improvement mode. You do need to take breaks sometimes. Breaks are a way of physically, mentally, and emotionally resetting so you are more well-equipped to keep moving forward. But you can’t make the break permanent, or you eventually lose sight of everything you have to live for.

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