Team SN Gets Real On Anxiety, Therapy, and Self-Love

A new year is a perfect time to update your health and wellness goals. Anna and Maggie are sharing what tips, practices, and resources they’re using to take care of their mental health in 2021 and beyond.

Anna's Mental Health Goals for 2021

I have struggled with mental health issues my entire life but have always coped with meditation. I am very aware of the problems I've struggled with and I have never let it get too far until the pandemic hit.

At first, I was fine in quarantine. I was stuck in my apartment with my sister and her boyfriend and as many know NYC apartments are not that big. I ended up cramped in my room all day long–I was sleeping, eating, and working in bed and did not leave the room throughout the day. It eventually caught up to me and I started to get really bad anxiety to the point where my stomach was in knots every day. I couldn't eat, I couldn't go to the bathroom. That escalated to morning panic attacks where I would hyperventilate and then throw up from anxiety. I started talking to a therapist who helped me on a day-to-day basis and I also had to see a gastroenterologist who gave me medication to calm my stomach pains. They told me that my anxiety really caused me to be physically ill.

2020 was a huge, huge year of learning self-love for me. I realized how short life is and how I desperately need to put my mental health first. It is okay to take a day off of work, it is good for you to go out and see friends. Exercise has been a huge help with my anxiety as well. I run on the treadmill every day for 40 minutes and I instantly feel better.

In 2021, I'm going to care for my mental health by working out, spending time with loved ones, and making sure I take more days for myself to enjoy life and be present. For anyone looking for mental health resources, Headspace is a great app! Reaching out to friends and family who have dealt with similar issues is helpful as well. It is always good to talk it out. And lastly, ask for help! The JED Foundation is a great resource to use.

Maggie's Mental Health Goals for 2021

I’ve struggled with anxiety since childhood, and the pandemic has challenged me (and all of us!) in entirely new ways. My anxiety has been easier to handle in certain ways–some of my biggest triggers have to do with social anxiety, which I haven’t had to deal with. The constant fear of the unknown is the most triggering for me now. We still have no sense of when life will return to normal (or a new normal), and that, of course, is hard to grasp! 

I've tried a variety of therapy methods through the years, from CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and biofeedback to traditional talk therapy, and a lot of the tactics I learned in those sessions have helped me. Journaling was a big part of my CBT experience, and I've been journaling daily just as a way to articulate and recognize how I'm feeling. I also write 3-4 things I'm grateful for every day. It's important to realize how lucky you are, even on dark days! Sometimes I write the most basic things, like coffee or sunshine, and sometimes it's a much deeper list, like my dad (who passed away in 2017). It doesn't matter what you write–it's just for you! 

In 2021, I want to make sure I set aside "me" time every single day. I make a point to exercise or do something physical daily, but I want to expand the "me" time to include breathing exercises or meditation. Carving out time to focus on your wellbeing is so important, especially during the pandemic!

My parents always encouraged me to treat my mental health the same as my physical health–if you break your arm, you're definitely going to see a doctor, and mental wellness is no different. Psychology Today is a great resource to find a licensed professional in your area, or you can use an app like Talkspace to connect with a therapist.