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The end of 2020 is approaching, and many of us won’t be too sad to see this tumultuous year go. The COVID-19 pandemic has colored the year, impacting people across the country in unprecedented ways. We have missed weddings, graduations, birthdays, and holidays. It has been a year that has tested our physical, mental, and emotional health like never before. In fact, more than one-third of Americans have displayed signs of anxiety, depression or both since the pandemic began.

That said, as this historic year ends, we can reflect on 2020 and look forward to the New Year: new opportunities, new goals, a fresh start.

For many, a new year is often seen as an opportunity to create change. Especially this year, it is also an opportunity to take care of our mental and emotional health. With these tips from the Mental Health First Aid curriculum, you can create a self-care plan that helps you prioritize your mental health and well-being as the New Year begins.

A great place to start is the act of practicing gratitude. Being grateful isn’t limited to Thanksgiving – you can practice gratitude all year long, especially when faced with challenges. Dedicate time to sit down and think about what you’re thankful for. It may be the roof over your head, clean water, your pet, or a good meal. Acknowledging the good around you can put you in a better mood and is a positive way to start the New Year.

It can also be helpful to create a self-care routine to take with you into 2021. Find activities that help you relax, reflect on experiences, and support your mental health, then implement them into your daily life. This could include finding a new hobby, exercising, or connecting with loved ones.

It is also important to recognize who you surround yourself with. Build a support system with people you can turn to when times get hard and celebrate with when things are great. Remember that healthy boundaries are also essential and limiting your time with certain people or saying no to events that you do not like is OK too.

You can make Mental Health First Aid a part of your new year plan as well. MHFA teaches people to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges and gives them the skills to support those who may be struggling. If you are already trained in MHFA, thank you. If you are not, take a course to learn how you can #BeTheDifference for yourself and others in the New Year.

Even though many of us are feeling fatigue from this year’s challenges, a new year is upon us and there are new days ahead to make your own. Take time each day for your mental health and remember to be kind to yourself as the days unfold.

From all of us at Mental Health First Aid, we wish you a happy, healthy, and fruitful New Year