After a harrowing 2020, most of us approached 2021 with the mindset that our circumstances would be better or, at least, different — whether we anticipated new career transitions, living arrangements, perspective, workout regimes, or simply less anxiety about our seemingly crumbling society.
Now, 2021 has come and is nearly gone. As we face the end of the year, it’s time to reflect:
💭 What has this past year been like for you?
💭 Did it live up to your expectations?
💭 Do you feel better about your health now than you did at the start of the year?
Finally, what are your hopes and projections for 2022?💡 Feel free to journal your thoughts on these questions!
Leaving Behind A Year of Crises
Throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, I wrote a four-part blog post series that captured my journey (and those of others, too!) of navigating and recovering from a breast cancer diagnosis.
After years of regular preventative mammography screenings and clear health reports, the last event I had on my 2021 bingo card was having a standoff with breast cancer. And I know it wasn’t just me — far too many people spent the year either working through difficult, unexpected ordeals or tending to issues that were long ignored.
I see you. Wherever you are, I want you to know that we’re in this together. Our fights may look different, but the dirt and sweat feel all the same.
As we approach the end of the year, I want to talk about balance and equilibrium as a means to ease our troubled minds and bodies for 2022 and beyond. 🌱
There’s no question that we’ve all tried our damnedest to find normalcy amidst the world’s chaos. Unfortunately, this strain has increased the prevalence of feelings like burnout, exhaustion, stress, grief, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness.
For example, Boston University reports that depression rates among adults in the U.S. tripled when the pandemic first hit. The rate jumped from 8.5% to 27.8% — and now new research from Boston University School of Public Health reveals that “the elevated rate of depression has persisted into 2021, and even worsened, climbing to 32.8% and affecting 1 in every 3 American adults.”
So many of us are fighting silent wars that are ravaging the health of our bodies, whether we realize it in the moment or not.
Here are some more alarming yet critical key findings of mental illness from Mental Health America:
- More than half of adults with a mental illness don’t receive treatment, totaling more than 27 million adults in the U.S. who go untreated.
- In 2019, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 19.86% of adults (nearly 50 million Americans) experienced a mental illness.
- 4.58% of adults report having serious thoughts of suicide, which is an increase of 664,000 people from last year’s dataset.
While I can’t affect these numbers on a large scale, I want to start here with you and anyone you share this article with.
Here are some questions to consider: How can you start taking better care of yourself? What can you do for your health next year that you didn’t get to do this year?
There’s a Wealth of Health in Finding Balance
“Maintaining balance throughout our lives is a cornerstone of overall well-being,” reports the National Alliance on Mental Illness, adding that balance prevents stress, which causes adverse health effects and leads to 75% to 90% of all physician visits.
The right kind of balance for you depends on your lifestyle and priorities. Whether you’re aiming for a balance between your work and life, productivity and relaxation, or social/romantic relationships and solitude, balance is yours to define — and it’s also yours to commit to maintaining.
On the other side of my preventative double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, I’m finally experiencing emotions I was worried would get lost in the confusion of navigating my breast cancer diagnosis. Besides the stress of my work as a physician throughout the pandemic, plus the stress of general uncertainty as a parent and citizen, I thought my diagnosis would take more from me and leave me with little to offer my loved ones, patients, colleagues, and friends.
Between the physical, mental, and emotional anguish of the journey, I didn’t see balance anywhere in my purview. Honestly, I’m not sure what I imagined of my future in some dark moments, but my new reality is far sweeter than I assumed.
Is it perfect? Not even close. Yet, I’m filled with joy and excitement to be present for my mind and body in new, healthier ways — like making time to take more naps! And I’m already seeing the benefits of how these small displays of balance and reframing provide me more fuel to be fully present for my village and community.
🔑 If you lost balance in 2021 (or long before this and last year) one rule of thumb is to be aware of how you spend your time plus how you talk to yourself internally, then continue adjusting until you meet your goals. If you haven’t defined your goals, now’s a perfect time.
The end of the year presents opportunities for us to assess what went wrong or right, and how we can avoid making the same mistakes next time around.
Whether you’re battling your mental or physical health — or both — I encourage you to pour as much energy into yourself as you do the world and those around you.
Preparing for a Brighter 2022
The benefits of equanimity and giving your body what it needs are plentiful. A balanced state of mind can help you:
- Improve your mood.
- Experience less stress.
- Improve your health and wellbeing.
- Increase efficiency and productivity.
- Enjoy yourself more on your own accord.
- Prioritize more time for yourself.
- Be more social.
I know it’s easier said than done, so we’re going to learn together.
As we close out this year and prepare ourselves for the approaching one, I’m going to help you by talking about how we can align our lives with our desires. I’ll also highlight some of the societal barriers that may be standing on your shoulders as you work to achieve a more balanced life.
👉 Stay tuned! This is the first blog of a three-part series that will discuss these key topics and more.
Meet Dr. Savita Ginde
Dr. Savita Ginde is an advocate and thought leader for reproductive health and served as Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains for over 13 years. And, until very recently, she served as the Chief Healthcare Officer for STRIDE Community Health Center where she oversaw all of STRIDE’s healthcare services and led their COVID-19 vaccination efforts.