MANAGING MENTAL HEALTH IN THE DUMPSTER FIRE THAT IS 2020

2020 has not been great. Just gonna put that right out there. It hasn’t been fun, it hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t been nice. I can’t imagine how a year with a worldwide pandemic, continuous racial injustice, a rise in the number of child trafficking, numerous (and still coming) destructive tropical storms and hurricanes in the Gulf, and so much more, would make a year great. 

When quarantine started, and we were locked in our homes for months, it got depressing. It felt like there was nothing good on TV, no new movies, nothing. Like there was nothing to read. School went by slowly, but fast at the same time. And then all of a sudden, school has started again. It’s a hybrid schedule this time, with one or two weeks virtual, then heading to school for in person learning. Virtual learning is stressful because you’re pretty much teaching yourself everything. Thank the goodness that it’s over now, but to be honest, I hope we never have to do that again. I have no idea how I managed that long. But during that virtual learning, I had to find a way to manage my mental health. Because not only was virtual learning stressing me out, it was the events of 2020. I really needed a way to air out my grievances, or be at peace with my surroundings and my wacky life at the moment. 

So in today’s article, we’re gonna discuss some ways to manage our mental health in this absolute dumpster fire that we’re calling 2020. 

  1. Finding Yourself Spiritually 

Let’s just be honest–the highlight of 2020 was Avatar: The Last Airbender being put on Netflix. I had never watched it before, and when I did, I was vibing. Not gonna lie. But anyway, the reason why I put Uncle Iroh’s picture up there is because he’s a great example of taking control of your mental health. When (spoiler) Uncle Iroh’s son Lu-Ten was killed in war, Uncle Iroh, who was once a general for the corrupt Fire Nation, took a journey through the Spirit World and found exactly who he needed to be. Like he told Prince Zuko, “It’s time for you to look inward and begin asking yourself the big questions; Who are you? And what do you want?” I took this to heart, and I got closer with God and started to pray, read the Bible more. While that may not personally fit some of your beliefs, it’s still pretty helpful to discover who you are on the inside. 

  1. Drink Some Tea 

I really don’t mean to sound so much like Iroh (not like there’s anything wrong with it), but drinking a hot cup of tea is pretty soothing. I, personally, like earl grey, with a few teaspoons of sugar. But lemon, chamomile, or even a cold glass of sweet tea for your country heart works too! 

  1. Reading 

Over quarantine, I didn’t just pick up a few novels to read, I started reading comic books (controversial opinion: DC > Marvel, but y’all ain’t ready for that conversation). I already had so many, so I just started re-reading them. You can read anything! Novels, graphic novels, newspapers, magazines, whatever! Sometimes putting a piece of paper in your fingers and turning the page feels better than continuous swiping with your thumb on Instagram. 

  1. Meditation 

It feels nice to ignore the woes of the world for a short period of time and just breathe. It’s calming, peaceful, and definitely aids mental health. 

  1. Music 

Music is incredibly calming, especially when listening to music that you love. Music that makes you happy. Our Entertainment Editor, Josie Deaton, is actually preparing a playlist for our readers. You should definitely listen! 

  1. Watching Something Good 

I know it’s important to stay woke, especially in this day and age, but sometimes the news is so incredibly depressing. There’s nothing with watching the news (but make sure it’s a reliable source of course), but it’s also good to know your limits. Know when to shut the TV off, to close out the News app, whatever. Turn on your Netflix, watch The Office, or maybe a good movie. Watch some stuff on Hulu, YouTube, it’s genuinely whatever you want to watch. But knowing how much your mental health can handle is always good. 

  1. Baking 

Over quarantine, I started baking so many pastries, and it turns out, I’m actually not that bad at baking! But you can find a lot of comfort in making something that other people enjoyed. Food is definitely art. 

  1. Exercise 

I’m not much of a cardio person, or a person who does incredibly extensive workouts. But yoga, along with meditation is so soothing. It is quite possibly one of the most calming things I’ve ever done. I got into yoga during junior year, and after a long day of theatre, academics, and other things that were piling onto my plate, it was a good way to ease my mind. Namaste. 

  1. Solace in People 

I personally know that I have surrounded myself around bad people in my life. But there was something incredibly different about 2020. This was the year I decided that I am done surrounding myself around people who aren’t aiding my mental health. And even though I couldn’t see some of my friends for four to five months, Zoom meetings, FaceTiming them, texting, Snapchat streaks, and just keeping in touch with the right people made me feel so much better. It was comforting to know that even in the midst of this crazy year, I was surrounded by people who cared for me and loved me. 

Some of these things may not fit you. That’s okay! But I hope I have at least (in some way) helped you and gave you some peace of mind. This dumpster fire will eventually burn out. 2020 will end! We are going to come together and make everything okay. 

There’s nothing wrong with a life of peace and prosperity. I suggest you think about what it is you want from your life, and why.

Uncle Iroh, Avatar: The Last Airbender

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