Mente Sana: How To Cope with the Chaos of 2021

It’s been less than two weeks since we rang in the new year, but of course, as 2020 predicted, 2021 has hit us all like pandereta de aleluya. The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage around the world, while vaccine distribution is delayed by government inefficacy. Oh, and how can we forget the political unrest in the United States, where white supremacists stormed the Capitol building ready to overturn the results of the presidential election by any means necessary. (Thankfully, Trumpito has now been impeached– twice!)

It’s fair to say that, crisis after crisis, our mental health continues to deteriorate, making it more difficult to cope with the enormous wave of distress that follows these historic events, as well as the everyday reality of living through a pandemic

Florida-based therapist Génesis Games believes the key is to accept that there has been a loss. “We have to acknowledge that a lot of the plans and the way that we envision the next year or two to be like are not going to be exactly that way,” she says. “It doesn’t mean that it’s going to necessarily be terrible, but it’s just not going to be the way that we envisioned it.” 

This mindset, she says, applies to everything– from relationships and everyday routine to major goals and cultural events. Here are a few ways we can cope with the mental strains 2021 has in store for us. 

We have to acknowledge that a lot of the plans and the way that we envision the next year or two to be like are not going to be exactly that way.

Génesis Games, Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Style

Games says it’s important to hold on to a sense of normalcy, and getting emperifollá is one way we can still feel like our pre-pandemic selves. “We associate certain clothes with certain things,” she says. “So we if we notice that we’re struggling with concentration and productivity, maybe just like changing clothes, right leaning to the side, changing clothes, combing our hair, maybe drawing on some lipstick can actually make a difference.”

Style is a tool in which some women extract their self-care from, so Games recognizes that not being able to do your nails or go to the salon as often might also be a disruption that affects your mental health. “It was something that brought you joy. It was something that you look forward to,” she says. “Try to bring that back in the best way possible.” May we suggest a mani pedi date with yourself? Or a Friday night bath with a glass of wine?

Don’t Let Inappropriate Comments Slide 

The year already started with an attempted coup by white supremacists, so conversations around race and privilege are bound to pop up everywhere (as they should!). Make your voice heard, but also don’t let racist comments slide. “I think those conversations are really valuable because we learn through those conversations,” says Games. “If no one calls us out on our B.S., we’re not ever going to change.” Games emphasizes that these actions are important, whether or not the person on the other side takes your commentary to heart. 

Set Boundaries (Yes, with Family Too)

The pandemic has obligated a lot of us to get comfortable setting boundaries, especially when not doing so is a life or death decision. But Games says that this is key to feel safe with socially-distanced interactions, as well as processing the guilt that comes with saying “no” to familial obligations. “I always have this joke where I say ‘You’re not really Latinx, if you don’t have guilt’,” says Games. “I think that can really put people in a difficult situation where they may not be respecting their boundaries just to please their family.”

Frances Solá-Santiago

Born in Puerto Rico, based in New York City. She is the editor-in-chief on Emperifollá. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, Glamour Magazine, Numéro, Refinery29, Remezcla, and Bustle.

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