The new year is a time to refocus priorities and set goals for the upcoming year. This year make a New Year’s resolution that will improve your mental well-being. Read ahead for 3 suggestions on how to improve your mental health!
Don’t set a goal by listing the end result you want! Break it down into smaller steps.
The more general or vague goals are, the less likely they will be achieved. Saying “I want to lose weight” is much less effective than saying “I am going to cut out soda”.
Or instead of thinking “I’m going to get in shape” plan out the necessary steps to do it such as “I’m going to go walking with my friend during our lunch break 3 times per week”.
New Year Resolutions: Sleep better in 2018!
Sleep is one of the basic foundations for how we feel yet it is frequently put low on the to-do-list. Refresh yourself by getting quality sleep. Sometimes there are simple things you can change to make sleep better. (Read more for ideas how to make sleep better).
Ideas for sleep resolutions:
What wakes you up at night? Make changes that specifically target what is getting in the way of your sleep.
- Stop looking at social media while laying in bed. A quick facebook check can turn into hours of mind-numbing scrolling and all of a sudden you don’t have enough time left to get a full night of sleep. Don’t trick yourself into looking!
- Does the light coming thru the window wake you? Get some light blocking shades.
- Cut out caffeine in the afternoon. Even if you think you sleep fine after your afternoon soda or coffee, caffeine effects the quality of your sleep. (Read more about caffeine and sleep).
- Cut back on the nights you drink alcohol. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but it can destroy your chance for a restful and restorative sleep leading you to feel tired, anxious, irritable, or depressed. (Read more about alcohol and sleep).
- Get a white noise machine to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Here are 2 great examples:
- Do anxiety or worries wake you or make it hard to fall asleep? Commit to doing targeted, short-term, therapy for insomnia called CBTi this year. (Read more about cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia). CBTi has been shown to produce results that are sustained over time, unlike sleeping medication that only works when you take it.
- Do your animals wake you? Get some cat/dog free sleeping time.
Find a volunteer opportunity this year. Multiple studies have documented the beneficial effects of volunteering on mental and physical health. Volunteering improves life satisfaction, self-esteem, and happiness. It can lower depressive symptoms and psychological distress (read more here).
— NCVO (@NCVO) April 7, 2017
Volunteering can help you feel more connected to others and result in decreased loneliness and social isolation. Social interaction improves mental and physical health and decreases the risk of depression and anxiety. Volunteering can help you feel less bothered by the stress of daily life and experience a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment. Volunteering can increase self-confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of self-worth.
What volunteer work could you do this year? There are endless different types of volunteer organizations and opportunities. What interests you? This could be a perfect way to improve your mental and physical health in 2018 — and help others while you are at it!
New Year Resolutions: Exercise to beat depression in 2018!
Set yourself up for success with exercise this year by defining your goals thoughtfully. Make specific and achievable plans.
Don’t decide your goal is to start running and complete a marathon all in 1 year. Even if you start to run (success!) you may feel discouraged if you don’t progress to marathon distance and give up running completely. This negative cycle gets internalized: “I hate running”, “Running is too hard and I’ll never be good at it”, “I’m not strong enough to run a marathon”.
Exercise isn’t just about physical fitness–it also benefits your mental health.
Start with a plan that helps you feel successful. Can you commit to walking up and down your stairs for 5 minutes a day? Walking outside for 10 minutes 3 times each week? Joining a relaxing restorative yoga class once a week? Can you exercise with a coworker at lunch for 15 minutes twice a week?
Feel proud of what you accomplish because this will help you continue to feel motivated. And literally, I mean this. Make a big deal to yourself when you accomplish your goal. Pat yourself on the back and tell yourself “I did a great job today! I achieved my goal of walking for 10 minutes! Great job, me!”.
It is helpful to plan out your exercise ahead of time. Is your goal to run 1 mile 3 times each week? Then schedule it on your calendar and check it off when you are done. Don’t schedule all the other things you need to do but leave exercise off the calendar or it becomes an afterthought and life gets busy.
Are you thinking, “Well, what are 10 minutes 3 times per week going to do? Why bother?” If you feel good about what you are doing it will be easier to keep building on your success.
There are studies to back up exercise as an antidepressant with even 1 hour total each week! You can achieve this as long as you get started!
Here are quotes from the study that talks about exercise to treat depression:
“Most of the protective effect of exercise is realized with relatively low levels of exercise, with no indication of any additional benefit beyond 1 hour of exercise each week,” the investigators note.
“The protective effect was seen equally across all groups, regardless of the intensity of exercise that was undertaken or the gender or age of the participants,” they add.
“The results of this study indicate that relatively modest increases in the overall amount of time spent exercising per week may be able to prevent a substantial number of new cases of depression,” they conclude.
Are you looking for more ideas about how to improve your mental health in 2018?
Visit the mental health bookstore for a list of excellent mental health books recommended by physicians, mental health providers, and patients that have found them useful.
Does your insurance deductible start over in 2018? Read my blog on how to save money on your medication. Don’t throw your money away this year!