So, did you make a New Year’s Resolution? If you have, I bet your bottom dollar that it was either to exercise more, lose weight, quit smoking, drink less or any other behaviour to improve your physical health. Am I right?
I asked because usually a New Year’s Resolution has to do with physical health, and not Mental Health.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and we don’t need to make a New Year’s Resolution to look after our mental health. Research has shown people generally ditch New Year’s Resolutions as fast as they make them.
Being the new year, take the time to look at your goals for the year and look at how you can work on improving your mental health. Being mentally healthy helps us to be more productive at work, function well daily, helps us to maintain meaningful social relationships/connections, increases our self-esteem, and helps us to cope with stress.
Here are my five tips to improve your mental health…
- Get plenty of sleep. Avoid sleeping in on the weekends and set yourself a regular bed time and wake up time. If anxiety is causing you not to sleep, then write down all your worries before going to bed. If you’re constantly thinking about what you need to do tomorrow, then write a to-do list. That way you won’t constantly be thinking about what you have to do as a way of not forgetting.
- Do some form of physical activity daily. You don’t have to slug it out at the gym for two hours, these days people are finding that even 10 to 20 minutes of exercise is helping.
- Spend time with family and friends or join a group to decrease any social isolation. Connecting with others helps to alleviate any loneliness you may feel.
- Practice gratitude by reflecting on the good things in your life. Keep a journal or say what you’re grateful for out loud. For example, “I am grateful for the coffee I am having this morning” or “I am grateful for catching the train on time”. Finding three things a day that you are grateful for helps with your overall wellbeing.
- Be nice to yourself. Remember that self-care is good for your mental health. Take some time for yourself to do the things that you enjoy or that benefit you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, look at what is causing you stress and problem solve any difficulties you are facing.
Two Things to Remember:
Firstly, things don’t change overnight, and you can’t just put into practice everything at once. Make a list of the changes you want to make to improve your mental health and slowly start doing these things one by one.Justbecause we’re already in the new year doesn’t mean that you can’t start now. And by that I mean you don’t have to wait until it’s Monday. I say this because most people want to start something new at the beginning ofthe week.
Secondly, if you don’t follow through with one of your itemson the listit doesn’t mean that you’re hopeless or you have failed. It just means do it at another time or do it the next day.
Happy New Year!
About the Author:
Dr Olga Lavalle is the Principal Clinical Psychologist of Dr Olga Lavalle and Associates, a Psychology Practice near Sydney, Australia. She has recently released a book on grief; ‘The New Normal: A Widow’s Guide to Grief’.
Photo Credit: pixabay.com