This time of year, a lot of us make “New Years Resolutions” this can be a good thing, but they can end up in some toxic behaviours or a massive let down if you don’t make the goals. This can mean making goals and keeping them can become increasingly harder and often lead to giving up on improvement entirely and increases the feeling of hopelessness.
Some of our team have come up with a short list of resolutions that are Mental Health friendly and can just be a step in the right direction.
A good starting point is to reflect on the past year, what lessons have you learnt in the last 12 months? What has brought joy in your life in the past year? What wasn’t so successful?
1. Make realistic goals – Often we have broad high-level goals that are hard to attain. Like loosing a substantial amount of weight or saving a large amount of money. While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with these goals, it can be more helpful to focus on the journey rather than the destination. Making small goals and achieving them are better than making large goals and failing at them and then being massively disappointed. If our intentions will help us to feel good, and we’ll be more likely to follow them if they’re realistic and achievable.
2. Just consuming healthier food and avoiding Drugs and Alcohol can make a huge difference. Research suggests that foods that are rich in folic acid (such as avocado and spinach), and omega-3 acids (such as salmon and tuna), can improve your mood and lower stress and anxiety. Using Drugs and Alcohol can derail these efforts. Exercise has huge benefits for Mental Health, it is hard to get moving when you feel down, but once you do some exercise, no matter how small, has huge benefits emotionally afterwards. If you “fall off the wagon” because you’re stressed, excuse yourself and just start trying again tomorrow.
3. The average adult needs around eight hours of sleep a night to be fully rested and it can be hard during our busy modern lives to get the right amount of sleep every night, particularly for individuals who work shifts, or for those with young children. However, the act of sleeping helps us to recuperate both physically and mentally, resulting in alertness and a positive mood the next day. Practicing Sleep Hygiene can help to start the sleep process off better. This includes trying to go to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, this includes the weekend. Avoid naps as they can ruin your routine. Limit caffeine, sugar and alcohol before bedtime, as it can make you feel jittery before bed. Maybe avoid liquids before bed so you don’t have to get up and go to the toilet. Avoid electronic devices 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Devices emit blue light, which fools the brain into thinking it is the middle of the day as well as being over stimulating. Go old school and read a book before bed instead of your phone.
4. January can be a bit of a depressing month. Christmas break is over, we all overate and drank too much, which makes us feel depressed. Then back to work and looking down the barrel of another year in an unsatisfying position or situation. You know the saying “A change is as good as a holiday.” Try joining a club or new group that you have always wanted to try or just get friends together to do something each week. Activities that include Physical Exercise, “Green Time” outdoors, socialising or helping others can be highly satisfying. You could end up making new friends, learning a new skill, build your confidence or just help someone who is not as fortunate as you. Hint hint volunteer at our Community Centre wink wink
5. It’s so important to practice self-care as a means of improving your mental health. It can be easy to focus on the needs of other people in your life at the expense of your own needs, but taking just a small amount of time for yourself can be hugely beneficial to your psychological health. Make time for yourself. Even little things like having a hot bath, reading a book, listening to music or practicing your hobby can help you to ‘re-charge’ and improve your mood. Set time aside for this each day, or a few times a week, so these activities are something that you can look forward to.
6. Lastly, stop being so hard on yourself. It’s so easy for us to be self-critical and hard on ourselves, which can have a negative impact on our levels of resilience, self-esteem and wellbeing. If you find that you beat yourself up over small things, and engage in negative self-talk, ask yourself whether you’d say the same things to another person. If the answer is ‘no’, then why would you say them to yourself? Instead, try to re-frame your negative thoughts so they’re helpful and conducive to positive mental health. If you fail to reach your goal or have a setback, try again. Success comes a series of failures and trying again. We are all not perfect, but trying and failing is already succeeding over doing nothing and having another unhappy year.