As we find ourselves at the start of another new year, many of us are trying to stay on track with our resolutions.
Some of the most common resolutions tend to revolve around losing weight, eating more healthily and exercising regularly, but what if we put as much effort into our mental health as we did our physical?
While for some, improving our mental health means seeking professional support, we can all take steps to better our mental wellbeing. There is no one ‘right’ way – every individual approaches mental wellbeing differently. However, here are some practices you could put in place to help better your mind in 2020.
- Be in the present moment
‘Being present’ is a term that’s often used when discussing ways to improve our mental wellbeing. But, what does it actually mean? Well, the idea here is that by being aware of our emotions in the present moment, we can try to control and adjust the way we feel about our lives and its challenges. This means taking time to process our thoughts, feelings and the world around us in a deliberate, purposeful way.
This is often called ‘mindfulness’, and many have claimed that it can help us to have a stronger, healthier brain, with better mood and less stress. As well as mindful breathing, you can practise mindfulness while eating, walking or going about your day. And, if you’re someone that uses your phone a lot, there are many apps that can further aid you, such as Aura, Calm and Headspace.
- Establish a sleeping routine
We spend around a third of our lives asleep, which means our body and mind know it’s essential to our existence. Sleep and mental health are closely connected to each other too, and according to research, sleep problems are extremely common in patients with mental health disorders.
Getting enough sleep, therefore, is essential to our wellbeing and there are a few things that we can do to ensure this happens. First, establish a regular bedtime routine to help signal to your brain when it’s time to sleep. Second, try to turn your phone and/or laptop off an hour before bed so there are no blue-light distractions that will stop you from switching off. And finally, if you’re still struggling, cut out caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
- Find comfort in the things and people you love
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t spend enough time doing what they love. The concept here is simple: things that make you feel good will have a positive impact on your mental state. If happiness to you means staying in more and saying ‘no’ to plans in favour of a good book or a bubble bath, then plan it in. If you get happiness by spending more time on a hobby, such as playing an instrument or mastering a sport, then make time for it.
As well engaging in activities that are important to us, meaningful connections are fundamental to our mental wellbeing. Often, when we feel at our lowest, we may want to shy away from seeing people – but, on the contrary – this is when we should most seek out our friends as a support system.
- Have a good clear out
A tidy space equals a tidy mind. In fact, according to organisation guru Marie Kondo: “From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life. As a result, your life will start to change.” And according to one study, the positive effects of decluttering really do bring a better life: 35% of people who declutter said they found it therapeutic, while 27% found it rewarding and 16% found it mentally satisfying.
The key is to take on one task, one step at a time. Tackle your clutter room by room and start to organise things into piles of ‘keep’, ‘give away’ and ‘bin’. This way, you can ensure you’ll have an organised and efficient way of working, without it being too overwhelming. The end result should see you feeling more clear-headed and relaxed.
- Prioritise exercise
Exercise is well known for its effects on our physical health, but its benefits go far beyond that. This is because exercising can release endorphins that give you good energy and boost your mood. And, for some people, exercise works as a natural way to ease unwelcome feelings and conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression.
If you’re not a gym bunny, set yourself some smaller goals.
Even getting up and stretching your legs every morning with a walk around the
block can have a positive effect on your headspace. You may even find that,
with time, you want to increase your goals as you start to feel its positive