Reframing New Year Resolutions To Help Improve Your Mental Health In 2021
Whichever way you look at it, it is fair to assume that 2020 was not an easy year for many people and as the covid-19 pandemic continues many of us are feeling stressed and anxious more than ever before. Turning the calendar page to 2021, it is a time to remind ourselves to increase our self-care in this new year as 2020 has taught us that without a stable health (physically, mentally, and emotional) the world around us could come to a standstill.
Every year we make new year resolutions and most of these resolutions tend not to last longer than a couple of months. Some vow to join the gym and go three times a week, others promise to spend less time online or save £100 a week. While many of us can do these things, some people cannot and can feel like these are unachievable goals and feel bad about themselves when they cannot keep up with these new year’s resolutions.
New year resolutions sound great when we make them but can be difficult to keep up with them. When we do achieve them, we tend to think that we have failed, feel guilty and bad about ourselves and promise to start again the following year.
So in the spirit of trying something different, try to discover what is most important to you and use that as a guide to set new year ‘intentions’ rather than new year ‘resolutions’. While new year resolutions tend to require something to be resolved, intentions can provide flexibility so that when things do not work out you don’t easily give up. More importantly, remember that the bridge between intention and achievement is taking a committed action.
Take actions that are realistic to your lifestyle and doable in order to incorporate them into your life in the long term. Here are some examples of committed actions that can improve your emotional as well as mental health and can help you regain a sense of balance.
1. Keep A Journal
Journaling can help you reduce anxiety and can help you collect and organize your feelings of the day; this can be a great way to track your mood. Or you could simply write to record the activities of the day or just a place to jot down your thoughts and feelings to let them out of your mind. This is a great way to clear your head even If you decide to dispose of your daily records.
2. Improve Diet
when we say to improve your diet, we don’t mean count the calories reduce the treats, but rather ensuring that you are getting more nutrients that are good for the body and immune systems such as vitamins, healthy fats, iron, magnesium, all the things our bodies need to function well and this can definitely have a positive effect on your mental health and energy levels. Food like Avocado and spinach which are full-on folic acid and Salmon and tuna which have omega 3 acids can lower stress levels in a person. Adding in these yummy foods can help you lower stress and appease the appetite. A great approach to benefit your body, mind, and soul.
Exercise is known to boost the happy hormone in the brain which is known as endorphins which improve your mood and sense of wellbeing. You don’t have to join the gym and task yourself to go X number of days in the week. But simply make small positive changes that can help you. Maybe it could be swimming once a week, or perhaps join an online yoga class and do it at the leisure of your own home especially during the lockdowns online classes are very popular. Try to engage in some kind of exercise daily even if it is a nice stroll in the park this will help you feel better both mentally and physically. This is a very common new year resolution but remember a great way to start is by taking small committed actions such as taking a walk to keep you active during the lockdown and to activate the happy hormone.
4. Self Care
This can come in many forms, for some it could mean a nice long bubble bath with a beverage of your choosing, maybe even candles. Or it could be a facemask and a favourite movie night with your desired snacks. Self-care doesn’t only mean in the form of pampering, you could also relax and read a book you have been wanting to read or perhaps meditate, go for a jog, or even just saying no to things you would rather not do. Whatever self-care means to you, understand that it is not a selfish act but can be important to look after your mental wellbeing in the best ways you know how to, so make the most of the time you have this 2021 with a self-care and include your emotional and mental health.
5. Sleep Earlier
Getting some sleep earlier can help you feel rested the following day which then allows you to get more energy to complete your daily routine which is great for your mental health. A lack of sleep can heighten anxiety and irritability. Try turning your devices off an hour before bedtime and not watching anything on the TV or your phone, instead use this time to just relax in your bed with no distractions. Other ways to help you fall asleep include exercising, avoiding caffeinated beverages, and avoiding alcohol before bed. It’s important to only use your bed to sleep or to be intimate – so you can learn to associate this environment as a relaxing place to be. Try to sleep at the same time and establishing a routine can help you unwind easier as it sends signals to your brain that it is sleep time. This is not often thought of consciously as a new year’s resolution but the intention to get sufficient sleep is a great way to promote efficiency for your days ahead.
6. Limit Social Media
Social media can heighten your anxiety by increasing your ability to keep up to date with the activities of other people, which can cause you to develop FOMO (fear of missing out). This can make you obsess about what other people are doing or even make you feel bad about yourself because you are not doing a specific thing like others you see. But do remember that apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat only give you a snippet of people’s lives and many people only post the positive and never the bad. Try not to compare your life to others as no one’s life is perfect and you must remember that all that you see on social media is not the entire truth. Many people would have posted their new year’s resolution already, which may be an added pressure for you to create one. Take a step back from this false sense of reality in 2021 by cutting back on social media and reduce comparing yourself to others. Practicing gratitude for the things you do have in life. This can give you a healthier perspective.
7. Cut Down Alcohol
These holiday seasons are always a great excuse to drink more, however, these substances can be harmful to you both physically and mentally, alcohol is a known depressant that can affect your mood negatively and can also increase anxiety and stress. Cutting down or stopping alcohol can improve your sleep quality and improve your mood and in-turn save you money and definitely save you from that next day’s groggy feeling. This is a very common new year’s resolution usually after all the merry-making during the festive period. It is achievable if your intention behind it is for better mental and physical health and mood!
People who suffer from mental health problems or loneliness such as depression and anxiety can often isolate themselves from friends and family. Which is not ideal in this lockdown? If you’re having a bad week or a few days, seek support – try to be more trusting and know that there are people who love you and will be there for you. A meet for lunch with friends whether It be in person or a video call can do wonders for your mental health and make you feel less lonely. You may find that things are not as bad as they seemed and if they are you have someone who cares for you to talk to about your worries. An uncommon new year’s resolution, yet an action that promotes well-being and great friendships.
Try to manage your actions better. Act instead of reacting to situations you may find yourself in. Instead of allowing yourself to get caught up in reacting to actions of others that can negatively push your buttons, prepare a mental list that you can use to disarm them such as helpful statements to counteract the negative comments of others. Find new ways to approach situations that trigger you and thinking through alternative actions before reacting. This will give your peace of mind and stop you from stressing or getting angry. Great for your mental health.
10. Find HELP
Whatever you new year resolutions, goal or intention may be, if you’re struggling with mental health problems or worries do not hesitate to ask for help! See your GP if you are having difficulty or a hard time. Ask to be referred to a mental health professional, don’t feel embarrassed about asking for help. Mental health can be a lonely and overwhelming feeling and can be hard to cope with alone. If you find yourself struggling call your GP or 111 for advice or you can find many professional psychologists online in and around your areas that are willing to help. We have fully qualified, UK registered Clinical Psychologists at MakingWays. Visit www.makingways.co.uk.
Make this year about yourself and your mental wellbeing. Even if you already new year resolutions, try some of these suggested ways of looking after your physical, emotional, and mental health. Start 2021 off the right way for you. We are rooting for you!