8 Ways to Practice Mental Wellness in the New Year
The New Year can be an excellent opportunity for a fresh start and the perfect time to incorporate healthy habits and a positive mindset. You might already have certain New Year's resolutions you’re following this January, such as joining a gym, spending more time with family, or trying to reduce the quantity of junk food you consume.
After another year of dealing with a pandemic, there is no question that we need to be kinder to ourselves. For most of us, the pandemic created unusually testing and stressful times. The majority of us are still healing from the impacts of social isolation, lockdown, and even the loss of loved ones to the virus. This has undoubtedly taken a significant toll on our mental health and wellbeing.
It’s becoming increasingly more important to give attention to our mental health in 2022. So if you're looking for ways to improve your mental health and wellness this year, keep reading. We've compiled a list of eight excellent ways for you to focus on your psychological well-being this year to enjoy long-term benefits.
1. Discover what makes you happy
One of the best ways to improve our mental well-being is digging deep and figuring out what truly makes us happy. Unfortunately, many people have a false vision of what happiness entails. As a result, they fail to look deep within themselves to find what speaks to them and brings them genuine joy in life. It's all too easy for most people to become preoccupied with what they think will make them happy rather than what genuinely makes them happy. So instead, they search for the ideal relationship, the ideal home, the ideal body, and the acceptance of others.
To begin making positive changes in one's life and becoming the happiest one can be, one must first get to know themselves and determine what’s required to lead a better life and become a happier person. To do that, this requires that you develop an awareness of the places, people, and activities that make you happy and enrich your life. For example, do you feel happiest when you’re in nature? Or when you’re spending quality time with loved ones? Does exercising bring out your best self? Once you’ve discovered what makes you happy, the next step is to incorporate as many of these as possible into your everyday routine.
If you can’t think of anything that makes you happy and you're having trouble with a very low mood, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor or a mental health expert. It could be a sign that you’re suffering from depression.
2. Look after your physical health
Looking after your physical health is one of the best things you can do for your mental well-being. While exercise may not cure mental illnesses, it can certainly have significant advantages for your overall health and help alleviate the symptoms of mental illnesses like sadness and anxiety.
Not only does exercise reduce stress hormones like cortisol while increasing endorphins, the body's feel-good compounds, but it also helps improve our mood by triggering the release of dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine and serotonin are chemical messengers or neurotransmitters that help regulate many bodily functions. Physical activity and exercise have also been shown to boost mood, increase energy, increase stamina, and promote good sleep quality.
Ideas for including exercise into your routine:
- Going to the gym isn't the only kind of physical activity you can do. You can also walk outside in nature or work out at home. These are both great forms of physical activity.
- Use the stairs. Look for opportunities to move throughout the day, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Get out and walk. Make time every day to get outside, breathe fresh air, and move your body. You'll not only feel re-focused and rejuvenated for the remainder of the day but your body will as well.
- Desk stretches. You will likely spend several hours every day at your desk, in a lab, or in front of a computer. Most folks can't escape it. Aside from sitting in a comfortable chair or on an exercise ball, remember that you can still “move” when seated.
- Try yoga. Practicing yoga can effectively alleviate anxiety and depression because it combines exercise, meditation, relaxation, and even socialization.
3. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is an essential component of our overall health, and we need an adequate amount of sleep to have sufficient energy for our everyday activities. In addition, sleep aids our physical and mental recovery, resulting in alertness and a happier attitude the next day.
The average adult requires approximately eight hours of sleep per night to feel refreshed, but it can be challenging to get enough sleep every night in our fast-paced modern life, especially for those who work shifts or have small children. Unfortunately, lack of sleep impacts more than simply our physical health. Sleep deprivation can also alter the way our mind functions. In addition, long-term sleep issues may harm our mental health. For example, if you suffer from depression or anxiety, a lack of sleep may exacerbate your symptoms.
The following actions can assist you in achieving better sleep:
- Every day, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. For example, instead of sleeping in on weekends, make it a practice to get up during the week. This can aid in the establishment of a regular and healthy sleeping pattern.
- Avoid taking naps throughout the day, as this might make it difficult to fall asleep at night and disrupt your schedule.
- Before going to bed, keep coffee, sweets, and alcohol to a minimum. You can also try limiting the number of liquids you drink before bed so that you don't continually wake up wanting to go to the bathroom
- Within 30-60 minutes of your intended bedtime, avoid using electronic devices such as computers, phones, and tablets.
4. Reduce screen time
We are truly fortunate to live in the digital age, where knowledge and communication are always at our fingertips, and there is never a reason to be bored. However, when studies show that more screen time and regular social media usage correlates to higher levels of overall unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life, we should all be concerned.
An excellent way to reduce screen time is to try signing out of your social media accounts and then analyzing its impact on your general mood, stress and anxiety levels, and overall well-being. For example, you might realize that you are considerably happier without regular access to the online world. Plus, without the constant need to scroll on your phone or tablet, you may discover that you have more free time to spend on more important pursuits, like spending time with family or practicing a hobby.
The mental health benefits of less screen time:
- Enhanced productivity. Reducing screen time or disabling time-wasting apps forces you to finish activities faster and with fewer interruptions.
- Better sleep routine. Reducing screen time has been shown to improve sleep schedules.
- Better connections with others. Meaningful conversations.
5. Practice gratitude
Practicing gratitude has strongly and persistently been connected with greater happiness in psychology research. It’s a simple but effective way to aid our mental well-being. Gratitude helps people experience more positive emotions, appreciate beautiful experiences in their life, deal with hardships better, and develop stronger and great connections with others. That’s because practicing gratitude can help people connect to something bigger than themselves - whether it's other people, nature, or a higher force. Begin noticing and naming the things in your life for which you are grateful. Make a point of paying attention to the little things in your life and appreciating what you already have. Pause. Pay attention to and savor the feeling of sincere gratitude.
Practicing gratitude can provide the following mental health benefits:
- Gratitude can help to lift your spirits. People who express gratitude for the good things in their lives are happier in general, which leads to decreased stress and depression levels.
- Sharing gratitude strengthens social ties. People have reported feeling more loved and connected to others in their lives when they practice thankfulness regularly or when those around them do.
- Gratitude can help you become more hopeful. According to studies, those who express thankfulness daily have a more optimistic attitude toward life.
- Each day we practice gratitude, we help neural pathways in our brain strengthen. This can create a more grateful, positive nature within ourselves.
6. Practice self-care
Self-care is another critical method for improving our mental health, and it is an essential component of leading a healthy and happy life. Unfortunately, we live increasingly busy lives, and it's easy to forget to put ourselves first sometimes, especially if we’re juggling many obligations and caring for others.
It's pretty tempting to prioritize the needs of others over your own, but setting aside even a tiny amount of time for yourself may be highly beneficial to your psychological well-being. Not only will taking care of yourself make you feel better, but the better you feel, the better you will be in all aspects of your life, including your job and relationships.
Self-care doesn't have to take up a lot of time or cost a lot of money. It could be anything as simple as having a bath, relaxing with an excellent book, going for a walk outside, or simply eating your favorite dish.
Some simple ways to practice self-care:
- Drink more water.
- Eat a healthy meal.
- Engage in exercise.
- Have a cup of tea.
- Sit in the sunlight.
- Take a refreshing shower or bath.
- Go for a walk.
- Spend time in nature
- Do something creative.
7. Eat well
Everyone knows that a balanced diet is good for our physical health, but did you know that eating well can also profoundly impact your mental health? Eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet can help you feel better, have more energy, and think more clearly.
Recently, due to the pandemic, people worldwide struggled with increased stress, despair, and anxiety, and many turned to their favorite comfort foods: pizza, ice cream, sweets, and hamburgers. However, current research suggests that as pleasant as sugary and high-fat foods are when we are worried or depressed, they are the least likely to enhance our mental health.
So, what should you be eating? Here's a quick guide of things to look for next time you go shopping.
- Whole Foods. Think fresh produce, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid preservatives, food colorings, and other additives that have been linked to hyperactivity and depression.
- Fiber. Fiber helps your body absorb glucose more slowly, reducing sugar spikes and crashes. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
- Antioxidants. These anti-inflammatory foods include berries, leafy green vegetables, turmeric, salmon, and black chia seeds.
- Fermented food: Fermented foods include kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso.
- Folate. Unlike carbohydrates, this B vitamin aids dopamine production without pressuring it. Folate can be found in spinach, lentils, and many other foods.
- Magnesium. This vital mineral aids in neuron and muscle function and cardiac rhythm. Consume natural sources like dark chocolate, cacao nibs, nuts like almonds and cashews, spinach, bananas, and beans.
8. Get help
Sometimes, we may feel overwhelmed by mental health problems that are not easily remedied. In those times, getting professional help can be absolutely essential to providing the vital assistance we need to get our lives back on track. Getting timely and expert help can be life-saving and one of the best decisions we make. At Jackson House, we understand the challenges you might face and our team of compassionate experts can provide evidence-based treatments delivered in a caring and supportive environment with 24/7 support. Call or get in touch today to start living your life again.
It's time to feel better
We are here to help and we are in-network with most insurance providers. Call us for a free and confidential consultation.
If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.