There was not an official poll taken for this article, but most people that I speak with in private practice, grief groups, and professional and personal social circles are happy to say goodbye to the year 2020. It has been a difficult year for so many. Many have lost jobs, businesses and many have lost loved ones. 2020 has been a year of collective grief with no place to have intermittent moments of joy or distraction. Without the ability to gather, many have had to sit with difficult emotions. Many have had to dig deeper and find other methods of self- care and more creative ways to nurture each other. A new year always brings much hope and a sense of broadening the horizon. Many are looking forward to a return to normalcy and safety with a promising vaccine; however, this type of collective grief that we have all experienced changes us. After a loss, grief educators explain the need for those in mourning to find a new normal. The new normal suggests that we will never be the same. The event has forever changed our situation, our mindset, and our way of life.
Mental health professionals know that the isolation has created an abundance of depression and anxiety for all ages. There are many ways to boost the happy hormones produced in the brain. Mindfulness and movement are two of the most effective ways to improve overall mental health. Mindfulness can help improve sleep, lower blood pressure and relieve stress. Mindfulness is slowing down and paying attention to the sights and sounds around you. For instance, as you pour a cup of coffee in the morning, listen to the sounds as it hits your favorite mug, smell the strong aroma, observe as you pour creamer or sugar in the coffee and see the color change, and feel the warmth in your hands. Taking a deep breath and observing these moments are just one example of how mindfulness can be created throughout your day. Creating intentional movement in your day can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Taking a walk around the block, stretching in between virtual appointments, and paying attention to your breath can boost your mood in a small amount of time. Physical exertion and mindfulness can help manage difficult emotions and can also improve memory and decreases stress.
As this difficult and tumultuous year comes to an end, Baue Funeral Homes hopes that you can take some time to practice some self-care. New year’s resolutions are common to discuss this time of year. The staff at Baue hopes that you can take some time to slow down, be attentive to the simple things around you, and create some pockets of time for mindful movement in the new year. After such a difficult year of collective grief, prioritizing your mental health and committing to healthier coping skills will create sense of meaning and tranquility. Committing to improving mental health will assist in creating a new normal after the year we will never forget.
Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC
Owner and Operator of the Center for Hope and Healing in St. Charles, MO