Giving our emotional, mental and physical health the priority it deserves should be something we each strive for this year.
As author Alex Morritt said: “New Year – a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours.” We can each decide if we are happy with the same old or if we need to make a change to become our healthiest, happiest selves.
When it comes to refining your plan to prioritize your mental health, sometimes that may mean adding new strategies to your routine; while other times it means simply sticking with the methods that are already working for you.
Here are nine strategies to incorporate into your mental health support plan:
1. Make time to connect. As we get back into the swing of things post-holiday season, it can feel busier than ever. And that can lead to feelings of loneliness. Start your year off right by maintaining the connections with loved ones and spending time together, whether it’s a phone call or a coffee date.
2. Get outside. It’s clear that getting fresh air can be a game changer for most of us. Setting aside time to be outside — even for a few minutes and even if it’s cold — can change your whole mood.
3. Lean on your support people. Identify the positive influences in your life and lean on those people in both good times and not so good times. Having a strong, solid support system and staying connected to your support system, especially during stressful times or situations, can be key to strengthening your mental health.
4. Set achievable goals. Avoid resolutions and goals that sound great, but are actually unattainable at this particular point in your life. Instead, set clear goals with timelines, and share those goals with loved ones. Don’t forget to celebrate when you reach them!
5. Focus your energy on what you can control. It can be a tough lesson to learn and an even tougher habit to break, but if you focus on things out of your control, you will find yourself frequently stressed and feeling out of sorts. Focusing on what you CAN control- your decisions, interactions with others, taking care of yourself, etc. can help give you the power to become the best version of yourself.
6. Learn to ask for help when you need it. Asking for help when you need it is not only brave but can make a huge difference in your mental health. Your loved ones want to help; giving them the opportunity to do so can make a world of difference. And in a crisis, call or text 988 or chat988lifeline.org.
7. Identify your triggers. Knowing the things or situations that make you feel stressed, upset, angry, uncomfortable or anxious can allow you to avoid where you can and cope when you need to. Being prepared and understanding which circumstances bring on negative emotions can help you work through those feelings in a positive way.
8. Practice gratitude. Take some time everyday to reflect on all the good in your life and let those things fill you with happiness and joy. This level of mindfulness can be very beneficial to your health. There have been many studies exploring the connection between gratitude and greater well-being, and that’s because when you consciously focus on positive aspects of your life, you have the power to change your brain by changing your attitude.
9. Be kind to yourself. Practice keeping your inner voice positive. Be purposeful about giving yourself grace and treating yourself well. Mistakes are inevitable, but you can grow and learn from those, all while being patient and kind to yourself.
What are your tried and true ways to take care of your own mental health? May this be your happiest and healthiest year yet!