As a new year rolls around, many of us are drawn into the tradition of resolutions and promises to ourselves.
We can’t help it! It’s a philosophical time. After weeks of celebrating with loved ones – we look forward to starting anew by reassessing our priorities and ensuring we are on the right path.
Often, these priorities revolve around health. (This may have something to do with the food and drink consumed in December.)
While setting goals are great – it’s important to have a plan to achieve them.
So if you’ve entered 2022 planning to make your mental health a priority, we have some wellness tips, to ensure you stay on track.
Wellness Tip One: Understand what ‘mental health’ means
Most of us are familiar with the term ‘mental health’. But what does it actually mean?
Mental health encompasses a multitude of factors. It includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Life experiences (like trauma) can also have a large impact on our mental health, as well as biological factors and family history.
A real definition of mental health takes into account so much more than our ability to perform day to day tasks.
You may believe you are ‘fine’ if you are functioning in society – going to work, attending social events, completing the housework. But a true assessment of mental health takes into account your quality of life.
You may be going to work – but are you productive? Are you performing to your full potential? You may have a partner, but is your relationship healthy?
A positive mental health leads to a much higher overall satisfaction with life. It means striving for true contentment and gratitude – while having the ability to bounce back from difficult times.
Wellness Tip Two: Implement holistic wellbeing strategies
Looking after your body is one of the most important ways to look after your mental health.
Research shows poor mental health can cause serious health disorders. It also works in reverse – with exercise and diet showing to have a positive impact on mental health.
Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It pumps blood to the brain, which helps with cognitive function – and it increases the size of the hippocampus and increases the connections between the nerve cells in the brain. This improves your memory and helps protect your brain against injury and disease.
So find whatever kind of activity works for you – it doesn’t need to be a high intensity gym class! A walk with a friend or your dog, a sunrise pilates class – or a dance class online, from the privacy of your living room! Find movement that fits with your lifestyle and physical abilities.
We also need to look after the mind.
Setting priorities is essential. List out the most important things in your life and ask yourself – ‘Are the things at the top receiving adequate attention?’ ‘Is my routine shaped around my core values?’ If not – make some changes to reflect what matters most to you.
And of course, one of the best ways to look after your mind is counselling or therapy, with an experienced professional who can help work through whatever challenges you are facing.
There are a variety of therapeutic techniques a Psychologist can use to help. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a treatment that has shown to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. It involves strategies to change thinking and behavioural patterns. It places an emphasis on helping people learn to be their own therapists and can be incredibly empowering.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is another effective therapeutic approach, focusing on accepting what is out of your personal control – and committing to action that improves and enriches your life.
It works to help patients to behave more consistently with their own values and apply mindfulness and acceptance skills to their responses to uncontrollable experiences.
Wellness Tip Three: Focus on your relationships
The people you have around you have a huge impact on your decisions – and your mental health.
Have a think about your inner support network – how many people can you turn to for help, if you need it? Who are your closest friends, and do they support you? Can you rely on them to be there for you? Do their priorities and values align with yours?
Having a solid support network has a big impact on our resilience – and our overall happiness. If you have people you can regularly chat with, who build you up and bring you happiness, this will make a huge difference.
Also think about your extended circle – and the different groups you are part of, on a day to day basis. Think work colleagues, sporting clubs, school friends, extended family or a community group – being part of a community gives us a sense of belonging – and this helps us feel loved, appreciated and connected.
If your circle is small, think about why that may be. Are you naturally introverted, and someone who enjoys being alone? Or are you pushing people away intentionally or unintentionally, to your detriment? Are you feeling isolated?
Isolation can be incredibly harmful, so this is really something to think about – and potentially an important topic to discuss with a Therapist.
Wellness Tip Four: Ensure a good night’s sleep
There’s no denying it – sleep is essential for normal human functioning.
Sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels – as well as supporting growth and development. Sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.
Implementing a healthy sleep routine goes a long way to ensuring a good night’s rest. A ritual before bed helps your mind wind down and prepare. This might involve a few steps like shower, moisturiser, applying an essential oil, hopping into bed and spending 10 minutes doing a ‘winding down’ activity – like reading a book or meditating. No screens! This is very important.
Wellness Tip Five: Get professional help
If you are working to implement wellness strategies but it doesn’t appear to be working, or you feel you need to extend your support network – seek help from a Psychologist.
Having an outside perspective on your thoughts and feelings, from someone who is an expert in mental health techniques, could change your life.
An online Psychologist is convenient, as you can book a time that suits you without having to leave your home or incorporate travel time. It is private, completely confidential and effective.
Here at Online PsychCare, our incredibly experienced Psychologists can provide a thorough assessment, take the time to listen to your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.