You should make self-care a priority like these therapists are in 2021

With 2020 behind us, 2021 has gotten off to a chaotic start.

Even if you can’t quite find the words for how you’re feeling, you can make sure you’re looking after yourself by prioritizing self-care.

“When a lot of people think about self-care, they think about how they can feel better, and numbing in the short term makes you feel better, but self-care is a more proactive response that requires you process what is causing you to numb,” self-care coach Gracy Obuchowicz told Healthline. “Self-care is something that when you do it, you wake up the next morning feeling better, while numbing is something that when you wake up the next day, you think, ‘Maybe I didn’t need that extra glass of wine or dessert.’”

Recently, therapists shared their plans for making self-care happen with HuffPost. Here are a few ways they’re doing so and how you can implement these practices in your own life.

Making rest a priority

Atlanta psychologist Rebecca Leslie hopes to fuse rest into her daily routine.

“We tend to think and talk about the importance of sleep, but forget about the benefits of rest,” she said. “Rest gives your mind a break. It gives your mind a chance to pause from thinking. Rest can help with stress, anxiety and focus.”

Leslie noted she tries to incorporate yoga and deep breathing practices each day. The American Lung Association has several deep breathing exercises you can try. For those interested in yoga, the Metro Atlanta YMCA has a 15-minute chair session.

Staying tied to your mind and body

New York City-based mental health clinic director Alexis Bleich is asking herself the right questions so she’s in touch with what her mind and body need.

2020 has been an exhausting year and so often I’ve found myself seeking quick ways to replenish and recharge, whether that’s bingeing Netflix or snacking on peanut butter M&M’s,” she reflected. “Now there’s nothing wrong with either of those activities, but I’m working on getting more deeply in touch with what I need when I’m feeling depleted, rather than just noticing the emptiness.”

If you’d like to move past stress eating and find healthier ways to cope, Grow by WebMD recommends finding alternative behaviors that will help you deal with things that may bother you. Go for a walk or distract yourself by calling a friend.

Disconnecting from social media

Roseville, California therapist Kurt Smith explained that with the election being over, he’s decided to disengage with news and social media.

“There’s just too much negativity and alarmism that I don’t find healthy for me,” he said. “This is tough to do, though, and requires really being on your toes. I was looking for a YouTube video the other day and a news stream showed up in the search results giving me the latest goings-on that I just didn’t need to see or think about.”

It’s not just about politics, either. A 2018 study from the University of Pennsylvania found that backing off social media leads to notable decreases in depression and loneliness.