Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for 2022? These can be a great way to kickstart positive changes in your life, but there are also pitfalls. If you set yourself unrealistic targets, this can set off a vicious circle.
Many people give up on their resolutions, which in turn can lead to feeling like a failure – even if they’ve actually made some progress. The key is to be realistic. And even though 2022 is well under way, it’s not too late to change your resolutions or make new ones.
Instead of making unrealistic resolutions that can harm your mental health, why not resolve to improve it? The last couple of years have been a huge strain on mental health across the world. Pledging to look after your mental wellbeing is always a good idea, but it seems especially appropriate now.
With this in mind, we’re using this blog to suggest some resolutions to look after and improve mental health …
Our first few suggestions relate to physical health, so it’s worth spelling out why. Quite simply, physical health has a huge impact on mental health. Among many other upsides, keeping fit improves self-esteem, provides a sense of routine, and boosts ‘happiness hormones’ like seratonin.
Regular exercise is a great way to feel these benefits. And if you can exercise outside, you’ll also get fresh air and natural light. The key is to be realistic. If you set over-ambitious weight loss targets, or a very time-consuming routine, it will be much harder to keep it up. But if you simply set out to do some exercise every day, it’s much more sustainable in the long term.
An excess of unhealthy food can have all sorts of negative effects on mental wellbeing. Generally, it can lead to a sense of guilt or regret. Then there are more specific problems. For example, sugary snacks may give a short-term high, but this is short-lived and can often lead to a slump.
A better diet, with lots of fruit and vegetables, provides so much more. It will give longer-lasting energy, improve concentration and so much more. But again, realism is the key. It’s OK to have an occasional treat, and eating can still be a pleasure. It’s much better to make incremental, sustainable changes than to switch wholesale to a diet you don’t enjoy.
Over the Christmas and New Year period, a lot of people drink to excess. Now’s a great time to curb that. Remember that alcohol is a depressant – so even if it feels good in the short term, it won’t make you feel better. January can be a difficult month, but it’s really best not to depend on alcohol to cope. Ultimately, it will make you feel worse, not better.
Get more sleep
Sleep deprivation can lead to increased anxiety and irritability, as well as slumps in mood and concentration levels. Working towards better sleep habits is a great way to improve your mental health, as it will make you feel more rested and ready for everything else you do.
There are lots of strategies to work towards this. It’s good to avoid caffeine or sugary drinks in the evening, and if you’ve exercised in the day this will help. It’s best to avoid screens for around an hour before bed, as the excessive light can stimulate you and make it harder to get to sleep. The goal is to establish a calming routine that prepares your brain to unwind and get ready to sleep.
Self-care is a huge part of mental health, and it’s important to make time for things you really enjoy. It could be anything – a nice long bath, a book, a new hobby. What matters is dedicating time to yourself on something you love.
If you don’t make a habit of it, it’s easy to let it slide – especially if you’ve got a lot of work or family obligations. The best bet is to put aside a regular time for self-care. That way, you’ve got something to look forward to as well as something to enjoy.
Get out and see people
It’s always tempting to stay in when the nights are dark and the weather’s cold. But if you do that too much, you can start to feel isolated. Taking time out to see friends and family is great for mental wellbeing. Human contact is essential for making us feel connected and valued.
Ease up on social media
The rise of social media has been a huge cultural change that’s brought many benefits. However, we’re increasingly aware of the downsides. It’s addictive, and although it offers small dopamine hits, these are short-lived and often lead to slumps. Then there are more obviously damaging things like cyber-bullying and doomscrolling.
If you think you’re overdoing social media, it’s a good idea to set limits on how much you use it. Over time, you may find that you are less and less dependent on it. This should have positive effects on many areas of your life, from sleep pattern to overall mood.
Seek support if you need it
If you’re facing any mental health challenges and it’s difficult to cope, specialist support is available. Everyone deserves a happy and fulfilling life, and it’s important to address anything getting in the way of that.
The NHS offers many excellent services, but due to the pandemic and increased demand, there’s a huge backlog on referrals. As a consequence, waiting times can be weeks. Some things can’t wait that long.
At Socium, we offer a whole range of private mental health services, from one-off assessments all the way to live-in care. Critically, all our services are rapid access, meaning you can get an appointment within 48 hours.
If you or your loved ones need any support, you can get in touch via our contact page.