Most New Year’s resolutions related to health focus on improving physical attributes, such as weight loss. However, the new year is a perfect time to dedicate to your mental health. Here are some affirmations that you may consider:
- Start a mediation practice. Extensive research has shown the benefits of meditation for both the mind and body. Meditation calms the mind, while helping you to focus on the present moment with acceptance and a non-judgmental attitude. In time, you will be able to emotionally handle things that would normally trigger stress. While this might sound simple, it’s an extremely powerful stress management tool. You can start with a very simple meditation practice. For 5 minutes, find a comfortable and quiet place to sit and simply focus on your breath. Pay attention to the in and out breath, while disengaging from distracting thoughts. You can find numerous meditation audio files to help guide you through this practice as well.
- Improve your sleep quality. Most of us do not get enough sleep or enough quality sleep. Yet, sufficient sound sleep is essential for your health. When you are tired and exhausted, you are less able to manage stress and are more prone to infection. Engaging in good sleep hygiene can help you manage through the day better.
- Start therapy. Many people think that psychotherapy is only for those who are suffering from severe depression or anxiety. Therapy, however, is for anyone who is looking to gain insight, to explore self-image or relationship issues and to develop better coping skills. You may see a therapist for just a couple sessions or decide to make it an ongoing self-improvement commitment. You can view therapy as an investment in your overall well-being.
- Eat well. Numerous research studies have demonstrated the positive neurological effects of nutritious eating. When you eat a diet full of whole foods and plants, you are making your brain healthy. Phytonutrient dense foods, such as colorful vegetables, contribute significantly to improved brain functioning and emotional stability. If changing your diet seems intimidating, take time to learn about a healthy diet, such as a whole foods plant-based diet. Then, you can start to incorporate recipes into your eating plan. The key is to continue learning and exploring about the diet you choose. This will help with motivation and keep your meals varied and tasty.
- Exercise. Engaging in regular physical activity, including high intensity aerobics has been shown to reduce depressive and anxiety symptoms and to facilitate a positive mood. In fact, for some, exercise is just as effective as therapy and anti-depressants to address mood and anxiety disorders. You may want to join a health club and start with group exercise classes. Talk to a physical trainer to see what classes will work for your level and interest. The camaraderie and motivation provided by a group can keep you motivated and engaged.
Your best chance of success with any of these is to start with a couple, such as starting a meditation practice and improving sleep quality. Taking on too many goals may become overwhelming and can derail your progress. As you integrate these new practices into your life, you can move on to another one. Making a commitment to improve your mental health will have immediate and enduring positive effects, so why not start now?