Many people welcome the new year with a fresh set of goals, or more popularly known as “New Year’s resolutions,” to become a better version of themselves. For 2020, many Americans resolve to exercise more, save money, eat more healthily, among others. While these are all great resolutions, you shouldn’t forget to take care of your mental health too.
Here are some resolutions you can make to improve your mental health in 2020.
#1. Limit your social media usage
Several studies in the past few years have shown how social media usage deeply affects mental health. Using Facebook, Instagram, and other social networking sites can increase stress and anxiety levels as we tend to compare our lives to others’ seemingly perfect lives. This can make us feel left out, lonely, inadequate, and behind schedule.
To minimize those negative effects, consider logging out of your accounts and taking a social media holiday. If that’s too drastic for you, resolve to check your feed only a couple of times a day instead of incessantly scrolling all day long. You may also put a time limit such as an hour per day only for social media. Turning off push notifications or moving social media apps to a different folder can make a huge difference.
As an alternative, commit to more face-to-face interactions with your friends and family. You may find this to be more beneficial to your overall well-being.
#2. Set aside time to meditate
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of stress and pressure that we face every day. That’s why it’s important to carve out time to meditate.
A Carnegie Mellon University research revealed that people felt less stressed when they meditated 25 minutes a day for three days. Meditation also significantly reduces anxiety and depression levels and helps people manage negative emotions, such as anger and fear.
To guide you through meditation, try using apps like Headspace and The Mindfulness App. You can start slowly with just 10 minutes a day. If you consistently commit to daily meditation, you will reap long-lasting mental health benefits.
#3. Keep a journal
This is not the same as your planner. A personal journal is a place for you to express your overwhelming emotions to relieve yourself from thinking obsessively about negative emotions. By expressing yourself in writing, you can track what triggers your mood and recognize patterns of behavior so you can find better ways to cope.
You can also try keeping another type of journal: a gratitude journal. This type of journal helps you reflect on the good things in your life and feel grateful for them. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude helps people sleep better, eat healthier, lessen stress, and improve interpersonal relationships.
To enjoy these benefits, end each day by writing down at least two or three good things that happened, even simple ones such as getting to work on time or watching the sunset.
#4. Help out others
Altruism brings about several mental health benefits. It triggers the release of feel-good hormones (e.g., oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine), which boosts your mood, and reduces stress and symptoms of depression.
Since helping out others makes you shift your attention to others, you are able to get out of your own head, gain a different outlook, and keep things in perspective. It can also give us a sense of purpose and feeling of self-worth.
The face-to-face interactions that usually accompany giving our time to others help us develop a sense of belonging and make new friends, thus reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. So ultimately, by helping others, we also help ourselves.
Helping others can take on many forms. It could be as big as volunteering in a house build or even as simple as opening a door for someone. As long as you step out of yourself to help someone else, you stand to gain so much more.
#5. Seek mental health checkups
Just like your physical health, your mental health is best maintained with a professional. You don’t have to suffer from mental illness before you seek professional help. You can treat it as just part of your regular medical checkup. After all, your mental health also affects your physical health, and vice versa.
By taking a proactive approach to mental health, you can identify warning signs of mental illnesses in their early stages, before they turn severe. When left untreated, mental health disorders can lead to hospitalization, which means expensive medical bills and time lost from work.
A mental health checkup could also educate you on healthier habits and coping mechanisms. This way, you’ll be better equipped with techniques to better take care of yourself.
Schedule your mental health checkup with Meridian Psychiatric Partners. Our psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists are all committed to helping you evolve to a healthier you this new year.