Updated on December 28, 2020
We are days away from the New Year, and you know what that means: it is time to make some changes. While most people are making resolutions to improve their physical health or finances, this year we encourage you to create goals that focus on your mental well-being. Remember, being the healthiest, best version of yourself means taking care of your mind as well as your body.
Make your mental health a top priority with the following tips:
1. Say Goodbye to Negative Self-Talk
Do you ever make a mistake and then replay it in your mind over and over? Do you put yourself down over insignificant things? Are you constantly comparing yourself to others? Well, leave all that negative thinking in the past. You wouldn’t kick your best friend when they are down, so stop doing that to yourself. Know that no one is perfect: not the guy at work who finishes his reports in half the time, not that mom who works a full-time job and still manages to make her kids nutritious lunches, and not even someone as graceful as Beyoncé. Accept that failure is a part of life and use your mistakes and shortcomings as opportunities to improve.
2. Take Care of Your Body
How you treat your body has a tremendous effect on your mental health, so make sure you’re taking care of it. We recommend eating nutritious meals, drinking lots of water, and getting enough sleep daily. While the pandemic may have thrown a wrinkle into your usual fitness plans, exercise is a game-changer when it comes to your mental health. Try finding a workout video on YouTube that will transform your living room into your own personal gym. Your body and your mind will thank you.
3. Spend More Time Outdoors
It’s no secret that nature can do wonders for your mental health and well-being, but how much of a difference-maker it can be might surprise you. A review of 51 journal studies shows that 90 percent of them agree that spending more time outside can improve your mental health. It might be hard to believe, but nature has the power to reduce stress, anxiety, aggression, and depression. It can also increase your memory, your attention span, and help you gain a better sense of belonging. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, consider going for a walk in the park. Try to spend some time out of your house or apartment every day. Even doing sedentary activities outside, such as drinking your morning coffee in the backyard or reading a book on your balcony, can make a difference when it comes to improving your mental health.
4. Take a Break From Screens
Netflix and Facebook might have been your salvation from perpetual boredom during quarantine, but you should set a limit on your screen time. An excessive amount of scrolling can lead to poor sleep quality and can even cause depression. Our solution? Take a break from the virtual world and enjoy the real one instead! If you live with someone, ask them how their day is going. Another screen break you can take is a household chore – like doing the dishes – that you have been putting off. It may not sound like much fun, but it will feel very fulfilling to do something productive as your eyes recuperate from straining themselves from staring at a screen. The simple act of disconnecting can do wonders for your mental health.
5. Find a Hobby
If you lead a busy life, developing a hobby probably sounds like the last thing you would want to do. However, individuals with overwhelming schedules are the ones who need hobbies the most. When your to-do list is never-ending, it is easy to put off things that bring joy into your life. One study shows that not allowing yourself to take a break can lead to exhaustion, loss of focus, and increase the likelihood of making mistakes. Therefore, you are better off taking a short break to do something you enjoy and getting back to your to-do list once your mind has been refreshed.
If you have some vacation time that you want to avoid wasting, you can still use it despite the travel restriction. Explore your neighborhood through the lens of a tourist to find the best food spots or cool areas that make where you live unique. Whether it is a day or a week, a staycation will help you reset your mind and return to the office (whether virtual or real) refreshed and raring to go.
6. Enjoy the Moment
Carpe diem! Too often we dwell on the past, fixate on what the future might bring, and forget to live in the now. Without realizing it, life rushes by. While preparing for the future is important, tomorrow is not guaranteed. So, as cliché, as it sounds, try living in the present without worrying too much about the future. Take a moment to appreciate the little things. Try going on a mindfulness walk to appreciate your surroundings. Spending time with your loved ones can also keep you in the now, giving you some happy memories to look back on when you find yourself feeling stressed.
7. Learn to Say Yes
Nothing can hold you back from living the life you want quite like fear, but you don’t have to let it. Start to say yes more and allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone. This can help you discover a whole new side to yourself. Saying “yes” more is not about agreeing to things you don’t want to do, but about not letting fear stop you from trying things you have always wanted to do. Despite the pandemic preventing us from physically expanding our horizons, there is a lot that you can do from the comfort of your home. Try learning a new language, or even taking a Zoom cooking class to improve your cooking skills. There is still so much that you can achieve, so start saying no to fear, and yes to living.
8. Learn to Say No
Knowing when to say “no” is just as important as saying “yes.” Boundaries are crucial to your mental well-being, but establishing them is not always easy to do, especially if you have difficulty saying no to others. If you are accustomed to saying “yes” all the time, you know how quickly things can spiral out of control. Before you know it, you have agreed to cover an extra shift at work, run errands for your neighbor, or even organize the next virtual game night. Saying “yes” when you want to say “no” can be exhausting. Out of fear of letting others down, you end up overextending yourself, which can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. It is important to remember that it is ok to say “no” to things that you can’t or don’t want to do. Those who care about you will understand that you need to take care of yourself.
9. Keep in Touch
Staying in touch with friends and family members, despite COVID-19 making that more difficult, is an excellent way to improve your health. A meta-study from Scientific American has shown that individuals with strong social ties live 50 percent longer than those who don’t. In terms of recovery, your loved one can help you address issues related to your addiction, provide valuable insight into your personal growth, reduce stress, and even boost your confidence. So, if you want to socialize while staying safe from this pandemic, we recommend you do so virtually.
10. Address Your Emotional Stressors
Pretending that something isn’t happening won’t make it go away. Therefore, if you are feeling sad, anxious, angry, or depressed, do not ignore your feelings. Instead, try to get to the root of the problem. Ask yourself, “What is making me upset? Can I do something about it?” If you had a fever, you would not ignore it but rather take precautions to accelerate your recovery. You can and should do the same for your mental health.
If you are still unable to resolve what is causing you stress on your own, you might benefit from seeing a professional. Just like you would go to a physician for treatment of a medical condition, a therapist can equip you with the tools to prepare you for whatever stressful situations come your way. If you feel more comfortable opening up to someone that you already have a strong relationship with, try talking to a friend or family member instead. When it comes to your mental health, it is important to surround yourself with those who support you and can help you in times of need. Whether that is a mental health professional, a loved one, or a combination of the two, there is strength in having support, and your mental health will benefit from it.