The basis of our resolutions for 2021 highlighted the ‘New Year. New Me’ stance. As the pandemic shattered physical and mental states, the advent of the new year brought along with it a conscious effort to revamp your routine and get it on track. Maybe we do need to look at a mental reset too.
But, for the looming question: how do we have mental health reset after a year that has turned our emotional patterns upside down and left us with no room for sanity? Riddhi Merchant Arora - a counselling psychologist who specialises in cognitive behaviour therapies, speaks to Bingedaily.
She believes in an eclectic approach when it comes to matters of the mind and goes about telling you how to get that mental health reset done right.
Is it easy to train the mind into believing ‘New Year New Me’?
“Merely telling ourselves ‘New year, New me’ can be compared to putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound,” says Riddhi. “The stress brought on by COVID-19 and the circumstances surrounding it may have been debilitating for most. The only way to train our brain into believing in a ‘New Year. New Me’ is to believe in our ability to rise above the challenges and extend a hand to our inner wounded selves.”
She speaks of the irony of change which is that it is only achieved when we truly accept ourselves. “Let’s strive towards healing and growth by setting goals that are realistic and align with our values.”
“In my opinion, training the mind to be ready for anything may be an impossible expectation due to the unpredictability of any entities surrounding us. COVID-19 is one such example. It is a human tendency to demand certainty and ease of living. This, however, cannot always be obtained. It is important to note that we have the innate ability to adapt and tap into resources that are/will be available to us in the face of a crisis.”
Why do we need a mental health reset?
Each of us has in some way encountered trauma in the last year. It may have been in terms of feeling low or maybe having a breakdown and needing professional help. A healthier mindset is so longer a cliche that needs to be attained, but rather a necessity. Riddhi compares it to a physical getaway.
“The mind and body have a deeper connection than meets the eye. Acute stress releases cortisol in our bloodstream affecting digestion, metabolism, sleep, and appetite; it also affects neurons in our brain, limiting our ability to think clearly. Our mood is also affected due to the chemical imbalance caused by stress. Taking time out, processing emotions, engaging in creative activity can cause the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones) amongst other mood-enhancing neurotransmitters.”
A guide to having a mental health reset in 2021
Riddhi is deeply associated with psychotherapy and is all about delving into the inner spaces of the mind in order to foster healing. Here is what she recommends in order to help the mind skim over the trauma worsened due to the pandemic and get onto the path of healing.
Every individual has met with a different set of challenges this year. “If you find yourself talking about how they affected you, it doesn’t mean you are complaining, it means you are just paying attention to yourself. Encourage self-discovery and healing.”
Ask for help
This year may have brought new changes and challenges in different areas of your life. If you need help adjusting, reach out to trusted friends or mental a health professional. This is essential for a mental health reset.
Give yourself a pat on the back from time-to-time
“Don’t pressurize yourself to be more productive/ compensate for not being productive during the pandemic. Remember, sometimes surviving (especially during a pandemic) is enough.”
Riddhi recommends resetting your priorities and being open to change. Think about the things you are eager to get back to, also things you aren’t. It is okay to try out new things.
Often, we focus so much on being good to others and forget ourselves in the process. “Be kind to yourself, give yourself a pat on the back for overcoming 2020 challenges, a little self-love goes a long way!”
Embrace the new
Everyone found a way of coping during the pandemic. Even the ones who did not have any idea about the kitchen stepped in and whipped up a storm. Others pined about not having their adventure thirst quenched. Riddhi says, why not do it all now?
“Rekindle those hobbies you could not indulge in during the pandemic, embrace new ones that you may have discovered and you will be ready for a mental health reset.”
Reconnecting with nature produces a cascade of positive emotions within us. You know the warm fuzzy feeling you get while you’re out on the lawn and hear the birds chirp and feel the Sun in your skin? That is Nature touching you in ways you can only fathom. “It’s a great way to de-stress,” says Riddhi.
Stay away from the news!
We are social animals and can hardly isolate ourselves from the happenings around us. Especially during the pandemic, many began to refrain from watching the news on TV as it was harsh on their mental state of mind. Riddhi agrees.
“Limit your consumption of negative news. While unfortunate events are an inevitable part of life, exposing ourselves to them constantly may make us feel low and can prime our minds to think in self-defeating ways.”
Though the pandemic was a disaster, was it really all that bad? “Think about the social connections that grew stronger this year and the relationships that you are most thankful for,” suggests Riddhi.
If you are reading this and if you survived 2020, it is because of someone who took the time out to help you through it. “Extend some gratitude towards someone who helped you during a rough patch this year. Some smiles and a good dose of dopamine can enhance well-being.”
If you wish to contact Riddhi for her expert advice on issues related to mental health, you can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org