The new year brings endless potential for renewal and change, but before you start making new year’s resolutions take a moment to think about what you really want to get out of the next year. Making a commitment to physical fitness or improving your nutrition is great, but progress in these areas may be limited if you don’t address something even more important: your mental health.
The topic of mental health still carries a high degree of stigma in our modern society and men are significantly less likely to seek treatment for mental health issues than women. If you really want to make this new year the best one yet, prioritize your mental health starting here and now.
Here are 5 simple things you can do to make your mental health a priority in 2021:
1. Practice Mindfulness
Being in-tune with your body and mind is the first step toward improving your mental health. Take the time to sit with your thoughts and emotions to get a feel for your mental state and to identify areas for potential growth. Mindfulness meditation is a simple practice that helps you increase your self-awareness without interpretation or judgement. It can even boost your attention and concentration.
Online videos and smartphone apps are available to help you learn how to quiet your mind, overcome your anxiety, and foster a healthier sense of self through mindfulness meditation.
2. Maintain Healthy Relationships
The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself, but research shows the importance of fostering healthy social relationships as well. Take the time to get to know your co-workers and make an effort to stay connected with friends and family, even if you’re not able to see them in person. If you feel safe doing so, invite a friend to join you for a hike or a cup of coffee. Something as simple as a phone call can help you improve and maintain relationships with the people who are important to you.
3. Focus on Physical Fitness
Mental health is just as important as physical health and, in fact, the two go hand-in-hand. Exercise has been shown to boost mental health by reducing anxiety and depression, relieving negative mood, and improving both self-esteem and cognitive function. Make an effort to include 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine, even if it’s something as simple as going for a walk or jog.
4. Moderate Your Media Consumption
Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family from afar but, if you’re not careful, it can take a toll on your mental health. Practice mindfulness when using social media and recognize when it starts to trigger your emotions or create stress. Set a daily limit for how much time you spend on social media apps or do a digital detox for 24 hours or a whole weekend if you feel it necessary.
5. Seek Help When You Need It
No one knows you better than you know yourself, but sometimes it takes an outsider to help you identify and work through issues. If you’re feeling down, reach out to a trusted friend or family member for support. For persistent mental health concerns like chronic stress, anxiety, or depression, it may help to speak to a licensed professional. Talk to your doctor or complete an online consultation to get the help you need from home.
You don’t have to completely reinvent yourself with each new year, but you may want to check in with yourself about your mental health. Cultivating mindfulness, maintaining healthy relationships, and taking steps to improve your mental strength and stability will drive your health and happiness for the year ahead. Follow the tips above to create and conquer some new mental health goals in 2021.