It is almost the start of the new year and time to start thinking about what improvements you might want to make in your life.
Before you make the same — lose 10 pounds, eat healthier, get organized — resolution, maybe you should think about focusing on your mental health. A happy you is a healthier you, and it will help everything else fall into place.
The Year of You
If you need some help coming up with a good resolution for your mental health, here are a few you might consider:
1.) Take action for your mental health — First and foremost nothing is going to change if you don’t make the effort to do something about it. If you feel you could benefit from counseling—everyone can if they are willing— then take the step and make an appointment, or check out a book at the library that might help teach you some healthy skills to deal with life struggles.
2.) Be kind to yourself — We are so mean to ourselves sometimes. We say things and think things and don’t think they matter but they do. Telling yourself you are “stupid,” “fat,” or a “bad” friend or parent is hurting you. Try practicing positive self talk. A little “you are beautiful,” or “you are smart” can go a long way.
3.) Set healthy boundaries — We have a tendency to let the people in our lives have too much control. Put your foot down. Don’t let your kids, spouse, parent, or boss run the show. Define your limits at work and at home and stick to them. Rather than inwardly complain about how your boss is making you run a personal errand talk to him or her calmly and directly. Let this be the year where you are in control of you.
4.) Exercise regularly — This is another popular resolution but it is actually very good for your mental wellbeing. Exercise allows you to burn off negative feelings, regain focus and clarity in the face of stressors, and it releases all the happy hormones in your body.
5.) Resist negative thinking — Instead of saying “you can’t,” tell yourself “you can.” Instead of focusing on how difficult a project is, be thankful that you have the opportunity to take part. Make the effort to recognize all the good in your life, rather than the bad. Taking a glass half-full approach to life will increase your happiness and lead to a calmer self.
6.) Mediate more — Meditation can take place anytime, anywhere and doesn’t have to take up more than a few minutes a day. It can be a huge help in reducing anxiety and depression, and is great in moments of feeling overwhelmed and stressed. It can be as simple as putting your other thoughts to the side and repeating over and over “I am ok” while talking deep breaths.
7.) Monitor social media use — Research shows too much time on social media can contribute to feelings of depression. Try to limit your use of social media platforms. When you feel the need to pick up your phone, close your eyes and mediate instead. The results will be much better.
8.) Spend at least a half-hour outside a day — During the winter months this is hard, but sunlight is so good for your brain. It is a big mood enhancer and if you add a walk or play a sport you will also be helping to release all the feel-good hormones.
Make 2018 the year for you. Help yourself to be happier and you just might find that those around you will be happier too.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.