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New Year, Old You — But On the Way to Mental Wellness

new year, new you

Another year has passed. It’s that time of year when people make New Year’s resolutions. What about adding some mental health resolutions to your list? It doesn’t matter if you set New Years’ resolutions or not, setting these goals should make you feel more mentally prepared and better able to handle whatever lies ahead.

  1. Set Boundaries

It’s important to establish boundaries for yourself and others. According to Anne Katherine, author of Boundaries: Where you end and I begin, “Boundaries bring order to our lives… Boundaries empower us to determine how we’ll be treated by others.” Healthy boundaries help you to be firm and confidently state what you need and how you want to be treated. You’ll encounter fewer situations in which boundary violations leave you feeling angry and resentful. There are many helpful books about developing healthy boundaries, like the one by Anne Katherine mentioned above: 

  • Boundary Power: How I Treat You, How I Let You Treat Me, How I Treat Myself by Mike S. O’Neil, Charles E. Newbold, Jr.; 
  • Better Boundaries; Owning and treasuring your life by Jan Black and Greg Enns; 
  • The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck — How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have With People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight.
  1. Stay Active

We’ve heard for years about how exercise is good for your physical health – but rarely do we hear about how exercise is good for your mental health as well. The book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey discusses the effects of exercise on the brain and the connection between exercise and mental health. A recent study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that even one hour of exercise a week can reduce the risk of depression in the future. Exercise helps to balance brain chemicals, produce neurotrophic factors that promote healing, and improve mood, sleep, and other factors. 

  1. Get Enough Sleep

People who suffer from insomnia are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “If you are sleep deprived, you can’t manage your mood,” Dr. Levy says. “Even the most basic demands on your life are going to feel harder.” This is particularly true during the school years. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. How to do this? Switch off your electronics at least half an hour before going to bed. Your brain is triggered to sleep when you follow a bedtime routine.

  1. Practice Forgiveness

You may be surprised to learn that a lack of forgiveness can shorten your lifespan. According to Huffington Post, “People who practice conditional forgiveness — in other words, people who can only forgive if others say sorry first or promise not to do the transgression again — may be more likely to die earlier, compared with people who are less likely to practice conditional forgiveness.” This was discovered in a study by The Journal of Behavioral Medicine. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, chronic anger can affect your blood pressure, heart rate, and sleep. To forgive means to accept. You can tell that you’ve forgiven someone if you are no longer angry and losing sleep over it.

Maybe you don’t hold a grudge against someone, but you need to forgive yourself. The process will take time, but the end result will be worthwhile. Therapy also provides the opportunity to learn forgiveness.

  1. Say Yes to Getting Better

Take the next step – or the first step – on the road to getting better, whether you attend therapy, consult a doctor, get medication, or implement one of these goals. When things don’t go the way you hope, don’t get discouraged, try something new. See a different therapist, try a new medication, or try something different for exercise (yoga, martial arts, jogging, rock climbing…). The possibilities are limitless.

We hope you are able to find one of these resolutions helpful in the upcoming year. Do it for you. You deserve to feel better. And you’re worth it. In the words of Shane Koyczan, “Admit to the bad days, the impossible nights. Listen to the insights of those who have been there, but come back. They will tell you; you can stack misery, you can pack disappear you can even wear your sorrow — but come tomorrow you must change your clothes. Everyone knows Pain. We are not meant to carry it forever. We were never meant to hold it so closely, so be certain in the belief that what pain belongs to now will belong soon to then. That when someone asks you ‘how was your day’, realize that for some of us, it’s the only way we know how to say ‘Be calm. Loosen your grip, opening each palm, slowly now — let go.’”

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