New Years’ Resolutions for Mental Health

New Years’ Resolutions for Mental Health

Tis the season to make New Year’s Resolutions. Most lists contain wishes to lose weight, exercise, get a promotion at work…all very worthwhile goals. But what’s missing from many lists is what you can do to promote your mental health and that of your loved ones. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Start an exercise program. Yes, we just said that’s on everyone’s “usual” list of resolutions, but exercise benefits your brain as much as your body. Studies indicate that a minimum of a half hour of cardio three times a week boosts mental health by decreasing anxiety and depression while improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise also increases self-confidence.
  2. Exercise your creative muscles. Scrapbooking is one hobby that anyone can do, and if you use it to express your fondest desires and favorite things, it will help you take strides in the direction of those dreams. Other possibilities include writing poems, painting or playing an instrument. Remember, the goal isn’t perfection, just free and playful expression!
  3. Express your love and appreciation to those in your life. Think your spouse or kids already know you love them? Use your words and your actions to get the message across every day. Close and happy relationships are key to living a healthy and fulfilling life.
  4. Turn off your electronics and spend an “old-fashioned” day playing board games, taking walks, meeting a friend for coffee—whatever activity brings a smile to your face. Share this practice with your kids and teens, whose brains are still developing and are more susceptible to the negative impacts of screen time overload.
  5. Spend some time with your favorite four-footed furry friend.  Having pets helps prevent loneliness and anxiety—and studies show that being with animals lowers the stress hormone cortisol and boosts the happy hormone oxytocin. Animals are great therapy for kids, too; they can help tame fear and anxiety. If you don’t have a pet, consider volunteering at an animal shelter. 
  6. Think meditation is too difficult, and that you can’t sit still long enough for it to work? Then try walking meditation. Head outside (bundle up if needed) and take a walk through your neighborhood or a nearby park. The buzzword is “mindfulness,” and it’s simply training your brain to stay present in your surroundings rather than fearing the future or obsessing about the past.

Happy, healthy New Year to all!

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/

http://time.com/4728315/science-says-pet-good-for-mental-health/