While there’s never a bad time to focus on improving your mental health, a new year is a great time to pick up some new habits. With the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and other traumatic events throughout our world and personal lives, 2021 has been a particularly stressful year.
While heading into 2022, it’s important to keep in mind the things you can control. Consider these resolutions for focusing on your mental health in the new year.
Increase physical activity
Physical and mental health are connected. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous—just do what you can and find activities you enjoy. Something as simple as taking a walk is proven to have a positive impact on mood, and exercise can also increase self-esteem and improve cognitive functions like memory.
Limit screen time
A stream of never-ending information and entertainment is constantly at our fingertips. Taking a break from social media and screens of any kind can free up time for alternative activities like being in nature, reading a book, taking a relaxing bath, or meditating. Studies show decreasing screen time is linked to higher levels of life satisfaction and optimism and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
Prioritize better sleep
Poor sleep can negatively impact mental help. Consistently going to bed and waking up at the same time each day leads to longer, more restful sleep and regulates your circadian rhythm. Better sleep at night also helps boost your mood and energy during the day.
Explore a new hobby
Having hobbies decreases stress and depression while also helping you feel less overwhelmed. Doing something just because you enjoy it gives you something to look forward to after dealing with life’s inevitable stressors.
Try one of these activities:
- Learning to play an instrument
Joining a group of others that enjoy your hobby can also be a way to build a support system, another key element to improving mental health.
Find a support system
After another year of increased isolation, finding people who care for you can boost your mental health. Trusted friends can listen, offer advice, and make you feel less alone. Meaningful relationships can also help you see your own value. Make it a priority to visit, call, text, or talk with people who uplift you. This can bring a sense of hope and peace.
Support is also available through Valley Oaks Health. Our counselors and support groups are here to help you embrace making your mental health a priority in 2022.