New year, new me?
WHY NOT! Let’s not be so glum. Things will get better…maybe not as drastic as we like especially in 2021, but it will.
Many of us have been overly excited with the end of 2020. Who wouldn’t be? It’s filled with all the bad stuff and the year ending feels like we’re ushering an obnoxious visitor out the door. Many natural disasters have happened all around the world that resulted in the death and the loss of millions of money– from the spread of the deadly coronavirus to the strong typhoons and earthquakes. Phew. It takes enormous inner strength and privilege to not let 2020 take a toll on anyone’s mental health.
We cling on to the idea that 2021 will be better. It will be the year we make things happen after the 2020 slump. Sadly, folks, there is no switch that’s been turned on or off. Not too fast, that is. But however vast the darkness, we must supply our own light and nurture it.
THINGS WILL GET BETTER!
But for now, we have to take care of our mental health more than ever. One negative thought can snowball so fast and give us a bad day, bad week, bad month and before we know it, a bad life.
Due to the spread of coronavirus and the implementation of lockdowns, people have been left susceptible to mental illness and disorders as they are left alone in their homes bared to the taunting voices in their heads. Artists, especially independent ones are very much affected by this because even before this pandemic, most have already been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Some even have bipolar disorders, PTSDs and OCDs to top.
With the government implementing strict house quarantine rules and the controlled travelling, artists, especially musicians, are barred from doing the things they usually do like live shows and meet-and-greets. These activities are also the musicians’ way of building their fanbases, and since these are impeded, thoughts of losing fans and people who listen to them can creep in their minds.
It is a really tough time for all of us, really, and it gets tougher when you don’t have someone to talk to, something to get your mind out of those catastrophic thoughts and somewhere to go to when it just feels hella suffocating in your own home.
Here are the top 5 things you should do to take care of your mental health in 2021.
Talk to a psychiatrist or mental health counsellor
If you feel like drowning already even after you do all the feel-good things, time to seek real help. This is the first thing you have to do if you think you have a mental illness. Have yourself diagnosed by a professional. Don’t self-diagnose yourself, I beg you, because self-diagnose can lead to self medication which may in turn lead in more mental health complications. After being diagnosed, you’ll surely be prescribed medications so take that and follow through with your psychiatrists instructions. Don’t expect to have your illness cured as these medications only help improve your symptoms and make other treatments for your illness become more effective. Use the meds as a temporary aid as you try to get yourself back piece by piece.
Take note that not everyone has mental illness, some just have poor mental health. However poor mental health can lead to mental illness so asking help from a professional really helps prevent anything from getting worse.
Here’s a list of COVID-19 mental health resources.
Just a 30-minute phone call from a mental health professional can have a great impact on how you feel. Most of them are free.
Connect with people (even your fans)
Whether it be your family, close friends or friends from the industry, do try to connect with them. Knowing that you have people you can talk to when you need to get your mind off of things will ease some of the negative thoughts that may be clouding your mind.
You can also join online forums where you can meet people you have the same struggles with and where you can freely share the anxieties you have experienced. Meeting people with the same struggles who’ll share their experiences can also give you advice and ways on how they coped with theirs and you can implement it on yourself too, if they ever were successful. Another way could be meeting with your musician friends and just gathering in one place, with proper social distancing, and communicating through music. Lastly, how about having a chitchat streaming session with your fans? Not only will it be fun, it can also help you promote your music.
Watch what you eat and drink
The food you eat and drink can also help you take care of your mental health. Eat more fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables for they are known to be brain protective. Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and walnuts, as they have anti-inflammatory effects that can help improve depressive symptoms. You can also eat nuts, seeds and legumes as they are well known excellent brain foods. A good drink for your mental health would be green tea. Green teas are well known for providing theanine, an amino acid that provides anti-stress benefits which can be of great help to people with depression.
You have things you should eat and drink to take care of your mental health, so it’s not a surprise to have food and drinks you should avoid eating and drinking. You should avoid intake of too much caffeine, sugar and processed food. These three are inflammatory and thus affect thought and emotions. In addition, studies show that a diet full of saturated fats and refined sugars has a very adverse effect on brain proteins which may impair brain functions and may even worsen symptoms of mood disorders like depression.
So eat the right food, drink the right drinks. Since we can’t deny that caffeine, sugar and processed food are already part of every human being’s diet, you’ll just have to watch over your intake of those three mentioned above. But if you can, avoid them completely.
Do 20-minute or even 10-minute exercises
A healthy mind gives you a healthy body. This is a saying that no one can ever oppose, however this doesn’t mean that a healthy body cannot give you a healthy mind too. These two are very much reversible, so exercising daily can have positive effects on your mental health.
You don’t need to have vigorous exercise everyday. Just a little jog around your lawn or garden, a simple stretching or even a 20-minute yoga will do. No matter what exercise you do, just make sure to have your heart racing and yourself sweating and your good to go. An exercise everyday will not only reduce your stress, it will also soothe the muscles of your body. Additionally, endorphin, a hormone that acts as a mental medicine, is released whenever you exercise. So exercising can really make you healthy both physically and mentally.
If you’re not into daily then you’ll have to start now, but don’t pressure yourself, think of it as another way to relieve stress or another way to take your mind off of things. Just gradually slip exercises into your daily routine, we don’t want you to stress about having to exercise daily, right? That’ll defeat our purpose.
Meditate and recite a mantra
Meditation is a part of yoga but it deals with mind relaxation and concentration as it focuses on thoughts and breath which in turn exercises the mind. Meditation is a good way to take care of your mental health as your mind is generally in a jumble of different ideas. When you meditate, you relax your mind, sort out your thoughts and ideas, and sharpen your focus. In short you are training your brain.
Another thing is that when you meditate, you get to work your brain’s Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is responsible for the brains’ ability to recognize patterns and trends. This ability can help you sort out your problems and may even find better solutions to those problems.
Meditating is a really good way to focus, concentrate and relieve stress, so find time to do so. I assure you, you won’t regret it.
There are many more ways to take care of your health, but I find these five ways the best as it is very feasible and easy to do. You won’t need to spend a large sum of money for each step. All you need to have with you is the will to take care of your mental health and the discipline to avoid things that should be avoided and to do things that should be done. Good luck on your journey for this year and always remember that it is still okay to take things slow.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD, custom vinyl records and merch company in LA.