As you know, for the countries that use a Gregorian Calendar New Year is just around the corner. While for many this would be a time to make new years resolutions, those often look like enormous imposing things when you’re not at the best point with your mental health. Here are some easily achievable ways to have better mental health in the New Year.
1. Teach yourself to look out for the good things, the positives (with a trick)
This might sound really obvious, but it’s quite difficult to focus on the good things if your brain always goes into overdrive when a minor thing goes wrong. (Hello anxiety!) But get yourself a nice notebook with enough pages, and perhaps a bit of room to doodle as well. Each day – or once or twice a week if each day feels like too much right now – note down some of the good things that happen. Small things are great as well. Petting a nice dog or cat. Eating something new and really enjoying it. Seeing a beautiful sunrise. If you do this and can make it into a habit, your brain will be helped in looking at more positive things. In this way it will hopefully give you a bit better mental health, because it can help balance the negatives a little bit. Altering damaging thought patterns is a way to improve.
2. Practice slow breathing
The average breath-rate fora n adult is about 15 breaths per minute. Practise slow breathing each day, by consciously attempting to make your breath rate lower for a few minutes. This will activate your Parasynthetic Nervous System, which regulates your bodily functions for “rest” state. Your heart rate will lower, and this will also help reduce anxiety. (source: MacKinnon, 2016)
This is another way to help with thought patterns. Common patterns that can work against improvement are overthinking future plans, living in the past too much, or overanalysing a conversation.
If you are okay with physical contact – and it’s fine if you’re not – try to give more hugs, or receive more hugs. Keep in mind to be respectful of people’s personal space though. If someone does not like to hug does not necessarily mean they do not like you, maybe they are just not very comfortable touching people. But anyway, hugging can release endorphines and hormones, like oxytocin which can make you feel nicer when you are feeling down.
5. More Conscious Living
Try to take a moment in the evening or morning to focus on the day ahead, or what you have done today. This can help you feel more in control of your life. Research project in the Values Study suggests that people who feel more in control of their lives report higher satisfaction. So every penny counts. (sourfce: EVS, n.d.)
6. Color on Clothes
Yes, we know, black is a great shade to wear. But it could help get you better mental health if you wear a little bit of color sometimes. Studies suggest that wearing bright colors can actually increase the release of dopamine, a hormone that influences positive feelings. (source: Standish, 2014)
7. More About Colors
Change your desktop background to green! Green is the color that produces minimal eyestrain, and could help create a calm atmosphere. It can reduce anxiety, and blue can help you feel more efficient and help lower your heart rate (Jacobs et al., 1974).
8. Try to be Creative
Even if you don’t feel like you are. Never really drawn or painted before? Give it a try, get some supplies and paper and just make something. Pushing yourself to do something new that is achievable an provide stimulation. Stimulation activates your brain and can help you regain some energy. Added bonus: you feel more accomplished. Note that it does not have to be pretty, abstract blotches of colors are also great! Furthermore, creativity can also happen in solving puzzles, riddles, word games, sudoku’s, doing a new route on your daily jog if that is your thing, anything.
9. A Common Technique Used to Deal with Anxiety
This exercise is often used in anti anxiety courses or therapy. Schedule your worry time. Give yourself a planned session of 15 to 20 minutes each day to mull over things. Give yourself the opportunity to worry and make sure you have something else to do afterwards. Also try to suppress the urge to worry too much during the day. Practising postponing worry can help you reduce your anxiety overall, because it often seems to happen automatically. This exercise can train you to suppress your anxiety over time, and help you focus on the good things you want to get done during the day. It’s quite hard, particularly in the beginning, but keep trying and it might just be the thing you need. The more often you are able to postpone it, the better you get at suppressing it when you really don’t need it.
We hope this tips for a better mental health will help you in 2018!