New Year’s resolutions often focus on improving physical health, but what if you focused on mental health this year? If you’re set on making a vow for improvement next year, add mental health to the top of your priority list.
Here are some easy ways to do that:
Talk to your doctor.
The first initial step is to consult a medical professional about the appropriate steps to take. General physicians are able to offer depression and mental health consultations. They can then refer you to a clinician who is able to tailor to your specific needs.
Mental health conditions are much easier to manage when you know what’s really happening inside the mind. For example, did you know that many conditions have physical symptoms or that some disorders may be genetic? Learn as much as you can about what you’re dealing with or what your loved ones are experiencing.
“It’s important to get educated and empowered,” Mary Giliberti, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suggests.
Keep a journal.
Putting a pen to paper can be a liberating experience so try keeping a journal . Even just writing down your anxieties and tossing them in the trash can be helpful. A 2012 study found that writing what’s stressing you out and then physically throwing it away may help clear your mind. Writing when your worries are keeping you up at night is another method you can try.
Go to therapy.
Go to therapy. Seriously. Just like you’d see a doctor for a physical illness, see a doctor for your mental illness. Whether its talk therapy or behavioral therapy, a mental health professional can help you figure out which method works best for you.”Talking about your issues and problems out loud can be very helpful. It gives some perspective,” says Gregory Dalack, chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan.
Adopt a well-balanced diet.
Put good in, get good out. Eating well is key to overall health, including your mental well-being. Try incorporating fruits and vegetables in your diet more often along with brain-boosting foods like walnuts and spinach.
Exercise at least a few times per week.
When you exercise, your brain releases those feel-good chemicals, giving you an instant mood boost! Research suggests group walks in nature can help ease depressive symptoms, so try to take your exercise outdoors.
Who doesn’t love an excuse to sleep in? A lack of sleep doesn’t just disrupt your physical health, but it can seriously ruin your mental health. Poor sleep is also a sign of more serious mental health problems. Try going to bed just 10 minutes earlier every night working your way up to a healthy amount of sleep.
Social media break
Social media is basically just a highlight reel of someone’s life, but that most likely doesn’t stop you from feeling a bit of envy every time someone posts a photo of their amazing party or their expensive new car. Research suggests that people can feel depressive symptoms from scrolling Facebook, so take a break from it all.
Express kindness towards others
Want to feel good yourself? Make someone else feel good. When you do a good deed for others, that makes them happier, which in turns make you happier, too. Pay it forward every so often and reap the benefits.
Learn to say No.
Here’s a gentle reminder, “no” is a complete sentence. Burnout happens easily — in the office and outside of it. Make sure to spend some time alone and prioritize your own well-being. If you don’t want to go to a party, don’t. If you feel overwhelmed by your workload, speak up. Self-care is not selfish.
Talk to others about mental health.
You never know whom you may be helping by opening up about your own experiences. Celebrities such as Colton Haynes and Demi Lovato and others have made projects like documentaries and photo series that addressed mental health issues this year, making the world a better place due to increased awareness. Also spending time with your best friend can reduce stress according to a 2011 study. Research also shows that social connection is imperative to mental health. So spend time with your loved ones and talk about you issues.
The only way for our culture to eliminate the stigma of mental illness is if the conversation continues. You can be part of that change
Do you or a loved one suffer from mental illness? See if you qualify for Segal’s clinical research study today!