As we bid farewell to another year and welcome a fresh start, it’s essential to not just focus on our physical health, but also pay attention to our mental well-being. The New Year brings with it new hopes, aspirations, and resolutions. Often, we make promises to hit the gym, eat healthier, read more books, or travel more. But how often do we resolve to take care of our mental health? This year, let’s bring mental health to the forefront of our resolutions. Let’s talk openly about anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health issues, breaking down the stigma and embracing a healthier, happier mind for this year!

 

1) Practice Gratitude

Just having your health, a roof over your head, and clothes on your back if enough to be thankful for! Start a daily/weekly gratitude log and write down all the things that put a smile on your face. It could be as serious as getting a new job or as simple as having a really good lunch. It is important to remember there is always someone worse off than you are, so do not take what you have for granted.

 

2) Make a Change

We understand that new experiences can be scary, but it is never too late to make a change if you do not like where your life is heading. This can refer to your career, a relationship, a diet, or even an attitude. If someone or something is not helping you grow as a person, it is okay to cut it out of your daily routine.  Make more time for the things you genuinely enjoy.

 

 

3) Practice Self-care

Cutting out negativity leads us to our next point: self-care. You may be the type of person who says yes to everything and is always the one others go to for help. While flattering, it can get quite stressful and gives you little time to focus on yourself and your problems. Remember that it is okay to say no. Sleep is an essential aspect of self-care. Scientifically, lack of sleep can lead to feelings of anger and depression.2 Meditation is good for the mind and body, as well. It can help ease your anxiety and reduce stress.

 

4) Pick Up a New Hobby

The new year is a perfect time to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. What have you always wanted to try but were too nervous or never had the time to do? Attempt new recipes, learn how to play an instrument, read a new book, join a gym or yoga class; whatever the activity is, trying something different will stimulate brain muscles and improve your mental health.

 

 

5) Diet/Exercise

There is a correlation between mental and physical health, so exercise and a good diet can enhance mental well-being. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem, relieve stress, and improve memory and concentration. This does not mean you have to run a marathon or spend two hours at the gym every day. A bike ride, walk around the park, playing with your children or dogs in the backyard all count as exercise. Just getting some sunlight can provide one’s body with a great deal of vitamin D, which helps our brains release chemicals, bettering our moods.3

Getting a good workout in would be challenging without a healthy diet. You need the correct nutrients to energize and replenish the body, including a good balance of fruits, vegetables, carbs, proteins, and plenty of water. Try to minimize salt and sugar intake. An unhealthy diet can take a toll on your brain and mood, disrupt your sleep, decrease energy levels, and weaken your immune system.4

 

 

6) Set Realistic Goals

Setting goals is essential because it gives you something to strive for. However, if the goals are too high, the constant unsuccessful attempts will upset and weigh you down, causing low self-esteem and depression. Make a list with several small, short-term goals and one long-term one. As you achieve the short-term goals, cross them off the list. This will give you courage and motivate you to keep going to achieve that long-term goal.

 

 

7) Live in the Moment

As mentioned before, new experiences are scary and cause people to stress about what the future holds. The thing about life is that we cannot change the past or decide what happens. All we have control over is right now. Uncontrollable life events constantly get in our way, which might delay some of your goals. That’s okay. Think only about how your today’s decisions will affect tomorrow and let life control the rest.

 

 

8) Keep a Diary/Journal

We have previously mentioned how writing things down can help improve your mood and achieve your goals. Keeping a diary or journal allows you to reflect on all the good and bad things that have happened and track how much you have grown over time. For example, you may look back on something that happened three months ago and process how the new you would have handled that situation differently.

 

 

9) Accept who you are

The most significant aspect of having good mental health is accepting yourself as you are. Everyone makes mistakes and has flaws. Nobody is perfect, and people must stop believing they can be.  However, everyone has their uniqueness and skills that they have to recognize and embrace. It is hard for others to love you if you cannot love yourself.

 

 

10) Ask for Help

Life is big and scary, and we cannot do it independently. Do not be afraid to ask a friend or family member for help when you feel overwhelmed. If you have made consistent efforts to improve your mental health and still are not functioning optimally, it may be time to seek professional help. Therapy is effective for 79% of people.5 If you are still uncomfortable seeing someone in person, many psychologists have telehealth options where you can speak to them virtually. When all else fails, antidepressants such as Lexapro, Celexa, and Zoloft can help patients manage their mental disorders. Admitting weakness is the greatest sign of strength.

 

 

Your mental health should always be a priority, and you have the power to take positive steps to improve it. Focus this year on bettering yourself as it will positively impact your life and the ones around you.

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REFERENCES

 

  1. Carbajal, Erica. “Omicron accounts for 3% of new US COVID-19 cases.” Becker’s Hospital Review, Dec. 14, 2021. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/omicron-accounts-for-3-of-new-us-covid-19-cases.html
  2. “How to Improve Mental Health.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 10 Dec. 2020, medlineplus.gov/howtoimprovementalhealth.html. 
  3. “10 Top Tips for Good Mental Health.” 10 Top Tips for Good Mental Health – People First, www.peoplefirstinfo.org.uk/health-and-well-being/mental-health/10-top-tips-for-good-mental-health/.
  4. Melinda. “Building Better Mental Health.” HelpGuide.org, www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/building-better-mental-health.htm.
  5. Westra, Dr. “The Effectiveness of Psychotherapy: What the Research Tells Us.” Find a Psychologist, 18 Feb. 2020, www.findapsychologist.org/the-effectiveness-of-psychotherapy-what-the-research-tells-us/.
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