There is something exciting about flipping the calendar to a new year, and this year is no exception. It’s 2021, and many of us are ready to leave 2020 behind. The fast pace of our lives was disrupted by an unprecedented pandemic. If you’re feeling the need for an extra pick-me-up, you are not alone. Self-care is an essential priority. Taking care of yourself is an intentional focus on your wellbeing. When you take care of yourself you are actively saying “no” to burnout and stress and “yes” to allowing yourself space.

Self-care should be everyone’s focus as we start the New Year. COVID-19 has made worse many concerns people were already facing. Here are some useful tips to help you prioritize your mental health in 2021.

Get a good night’s sleep. A full night’s sleep is essential for our health and one of the best measures you can take to keep your body and immune system running on all cylinders. It’s not just about how long you sleep, but also a consistent sleep schedule. Tips for a good night’s sleep: Make sure you go to bed around the same time each night, avoid caffeine and alcohol within a few hours of bedtime, keep your bedroom cool and find some time to relax before you go to bed.

Maintain Relationships. There is no doubt that 2020 changed your social habits. Relationships are essential for our emotional well-being. We need to be intentional about checking in with our friends, family and neighbors. Doing so creates a sense of normalcy and connection. All the while we need to continue to socially distance ourselves, of course.

Look after your health. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important component of self-care. Make time for movement, whether it is a walk outside, online yoga class, or heading back to the gym. Also, don’t forget about regular check-ups with your healthcare provider.

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Limit screen time. Through this pandemic our screens have been a tool to connect and interact with others, friends, family, fitness, and more. Take breaks from your mobile device, bring back the phone call, trade TV time for a podcast or book, pick up a new hobby, or practice mindfulness/meditation.

Find ways to spark joy in every day. Some say if you are not creating joy in every day, you are not fully living. If you are having difficulty finding positivity and joy, especially during this pandemic, you are not alone. Make a joy list, find ways to give to others and the community, choose kindness and don’t forget to savor joyful moments, both big and small.

“In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” –Anonymous.

Horizon Public Health wishes you a healthy and joyful 2021. For questions about any of our programs or general questions about the pandemic please call 800-450-4177 or visit the MDH or CDC websites.

Marcia Schroeder is a registered nurse and Amy Reineke is a health educator with Horizon Public Health, which serves five counties, including Douglas County. Contact Schroeder at marcias@horizonph.org.