A year into the pandemic, we're all at risk of burnout. Taking care of your mental health is more important than ever, and there are both big and small ways in which to do that.
"Stress is the brain's worst enemy. Plus, it can affect your body's metabolism and immune system and provoke feelings of depression, hunger, and fatigue," says Pavan Pamadurthi, MD, medical director of outpatient behavioral health services at Methodist Richardson Medical Center.
One of the easiest and best ways to quiet your mind is by quieting your surroundings. Ashley Burdex, DO, family medicine physician with Methodist Family Health Center – Charlton, points out the importance of making time for quiet.
"Quiet time is crucial to reset your mind to function throughout your day," she says. "It helps calm nerves and provides clearer perspective."
It also reduces stress and the risk of medical conditions associated with it: heart attack, obesity, stroke, and heart disease, among others.
To meet your quiet quota, aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes of quiet time a day, five days a week. You don't have to do it all at once, either — feel free to split calm moments into smaller blocks if necessary.
"A space for quiet time needs positive vibes and no interruptions, clutter, or distracting colors to be most effective," Dr. Burdex says. Many people use this time for prayer or meditation, but it can be as simple as thinking about your personal goals and plans.
Change your scenery
If home isn't your quiet space, try visiting a library or art museum, exploring a park, or finding a cozy spot in a coffee shop.
Spending time outdoors has added benefits for your brain and body. Use that time to walk or jog, increasing your cardio health and releasing endorphins, while taking in some vitamin D and fresh air.
Have a hobby
Another great outlet for your emotions is finding a soothing hobby, such as journaling, painting, dance, or music. Research shows that making time for leisure activities uplifts your mood and lowers depression.
It can be hard to focus on the good when certain things are always nagging at the corners of your mind. Identify the things that are mentally draining and work on eliminating unnecessary stressors. For example, work up a budget instead of doomscrolling or take 10 minutes to pick up your home instead of zoning out on the couch.
With more people getting vaccinated, you may be able to visit friends and family you haven't seen in person for a while. Even if some get-togethers still have to take place over the phone or video chats, it's crucial for everyone's wellbeing to check in and catch up.
Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults every year, but less than half receive treatment. Think you might have an anxiety disorder? Take this quick and easy risk assessment from Methodist Health System to find out.