Prioritizing mental health more important than ever in 2021, experts say

Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 7:39 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many people’s mental health.

A recent Gallop poll shows American’s mental health is worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades.

Between last year’s civil unrest, the pandemic and elections, experts say we’ve learned a lot— but one of the biggest lessons is the need to commit to our mental health.

Counselors suggest adding a New Year’s resolution—taking care of yourself inside and out.

2020 was a year like none other. Stress about money, health, and social distancing disrupted the minds and routines of many, causing some to not prioritize their mental well-being.

“Unfortunately, a lot of times it is the last thing that people address in their lives,” said a licensed professional counselor and owner of Insight & Inspiration.

Althea Dent said the new year is a chance to prioritize mental health.

“We are holistic beings, we have body and spirit, and a lot of them, for some place, is on our physical being, and so this is an area that needs nurturing and care,” said Dent.

Dent says taking time to reflect and relax is key to starting a New Year in a positive headspace.

“Sometimes we always look back over the day and we only look at, oh, I didn’t do this, I didn’t get this done, but it’s actually better to kind of look at and appreciate what has been done,” said Dent.

She suggests writing things down before going to bed; that way we’re not up stressing all night.

“Being aware of them and then learning to incorporate ways to manage them, to decrease the affects and that in our lives would be really helpful,” said Dent.

Although routines and celebrations have been disrupted, Dent says it is important to still search for a sense of normalcy.

“Because we are designed to share experiences, not necessarily be going about them alone,” said Dent.

She suggests doing a mental wrap-up at the end of the day by having a thankful journal to write down the good things that have happened.

“It really helps expand your perspective, because a lot of times when we get a little depressed, we kind of get tunnel vision and we only can see certain things, and having a thing for less can kind of expand and remind you I don’t things are going on,” she said.

Mental health experts also suggest building downtime to go outside, eating well, and simply rest.

Dent says don’t be afraid to reach out for a therapist or counselor. She says reaching out for professional help or talking to someone is a way for you to let your hair down and take care yourself.

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