Recent studies suggest that a slower walking speed from year to year and slowed mental processing could point to a higher risk of developing dementia. Here’s what you need to know.Read More
As we close out another year and look to the future, it’s time to reflect on ways we can improve ourselves. While it’s common for New Year’s resolutions to focus on improving physical health through diet and exercise, these aren’t the only changes to think about. Consider these suggestions for prioritizing your mental health and wellness this year.
1. Take up a new hobby
People who start new hobbies find it’s a great way to relieve stress and boost self-esteem. By focusing on something outside your routine, you can give yourself a sense of accomplishment through a new creative outlet. Starting a new hobby is a great way to get outside your comfort zone. Or take time to rediscover something you used to enjoy doing. Remember, you don’t have to be great at something to do it and get enjoyment from it. It also gives you time to socialize with other people who share your interests and make new friends.
2. Practice mindfulness
“Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment,” said Brandy Lee Brown-Weikel, Clinical Social Worker at Inspira Health Outpatient Behavioral Health Services Bridgeton. “Rather than worrying about the unknown or the uncontrollable, practicing mindfulness can help you notice and appreciate what’s in front of you.” Mindfulness can help you manage difficult emotions, such as stress, anxiety and depression. There are many ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life, including meditation, breathing exercises and walking.
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
3. Volunteer in your community
Volunteering can help you feel good about yourself while doing something worthwhile for others. This year, prioritize your wellness by donating your time to a worthwhile cause. Volunteering strengthens our social ties, makes us part of a community and creates a sense of belonging. Committing to volunteering in the new year is a great way to help yourself and your community.
4. Limit your screen time
Take care of your mental health this year by avoiding spending too much time scrolling through social media. “Minimizing screen time helps us connect with family and friends and engage with the world around us,” said Brown-Weikel. “Limiting the time spent on your phone, watching TV or working from a computer can also reduce stress, increase focus and improve your sleep habits.”
An overabundance of social media also leads us down the rabbit hole of comparing our lives to the lives of others. It is important to remember people are posting what they want you to see, and this may not actual be their reality.
5. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is a way to practice appreciation for what you have rather than focusing on what you lack. Gratitude research supports a strong association between a person’s well-being and happiness and how often they express appreciation. It also shows that gratitude can help you experience more positive feelings, hold onto good experiences and better handle adversity.
6. Improve your sleep habits
Kick the new year off by committing to improving the quality of your sleep. “Sleep is foundational to our health and wellness, and many of us are not getting enough of it,” said Brown-Weikel. “Plan for at least eight hours of sleep each night and make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and relaxing.” Commit to waking up and going to bed at the same time each day and avoid exposure to electronic devices in the evening.
Are you looking for comprehensive behavioral health care and support? Inspira’s multidisciplinary treatment teams offer a wide range of services to address behavioral health concerns for children, adolescents, families and adults. Schedule an appointment with one of our specialists today.
Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.