I have never been a fan of new years resolutions. I feel they are often set up with high, unrealistic expectations and as a result, are too difficult to maintain. I feel that a vast part of mental health is consistency in a realistic expectation of your time and effort.
Here are 5 easy steps we can take to ensure a healthy mindset in 2018.
1. Take some me time.
Self-care has become a massive trend in 2017, but what does it actually mean? Self-care can be broken down into a small segment each day. I often get asked if self-care is needed each day. I answer that question by asking, is it easier to extinguish a small bit of paper on fire, or to leave it for a week and then try and extinguish the full building? Stress often works in the same way. Left to burn, stress can become a bigger problem, however, if we dedicate 15 minutes of ‘me time’ each day, we’re extinguishing that ‘stress fire’ each day and not allowing it to catch flame to other areas. Remember self-care is individual for each person. Self-care can be a bath with candles to a cup of tea with a book you love. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is a quiet, calming activity (that you love!).
2. Set priorities
Take the time to list out all of your worries and concerns. draw a big circle, then a smaller one in the center. In the outside circle list all the worries that you have no control over. In the middle circle, write down the concerns that you have control over, this could stem from managing money better to eating a bit healthier. Only prioritize aspects that you have control over, because no amount of worrying will change the things you have no control over, it will only steal your peace.
3. Get some sleep
Try and wind down 30 minutes before bedtime by putting down electronic devices and refrain from anything with a screen (phone, tv, iPad etc). Take the time to go to bed and read or practice mindfulness (found on the Headspace app for apple and android). Try to aim for seven to nine hours sleep each night.
4. Jot down thoughts
Have a pen and notebook handy. Writing down your thoughts can release anxiety and depression, kind of like a pressure valve. Writing a journal in different colored pens, reflecting each mood can be a helpful technique to process emotions. This is known as color journaling. Journals can also be a great tool for to do lists.
5. Seeking out therapy
Therapy used to have an awful reputation. We used to see therapy as some form of weakness or ‘looney bin’ as I have often heard it referred to. In modern day society, our minds are in overdrive. If we compare our minds activity to that of someone in the 1950’s, it is night and day, and with that, comes an evolutionary fault that our minds cannot handle. Overthinking. Overthinking matched with poor coping mechanisms or avoidance is when depression and anxiety creep in.
If you feel like depression or anxiety could be something you would like to address make this the year you seek therapy. There is no shame in seeing a professional, just the same as you would see a dentist for your teeth or a physiotherapist for your muscles, it can help you think in new and helpful ways.
Thank you for reading and have a happy and safe 2018.