A new year has finally come! The hardships of the global pandemic are not yet over, but yay, we made it here! New year’s resolutions have always been the trend at the start of the new year. Unlike any other year, our standard resolutions list for 2021 may need a little shake-up.
A famous quote says, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Having control of your mind and the way you think, helps the way you process the world and those around you, and will bring wholeness back to your life. We’ve been through a lot over the past year so it is more important than ever to take a step back, take a deep breath and prioritise self-care. Here are a few steps to help you take care of your mental health this year.
Intentionally give thanks
Gratitude is a way of appreciating what others have done for you, as well as the things that you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t. Research shows that grateful thinking improves mood. When people are focused on the good, they are practicing benefit-focused reappraisal, most similar to the phrase of “finding the silver-lining”.
How do you cultivate gratitude on a regular basis? Here are some suggestions:
- Do simple acts of kindness towards others no matter how small. Tip: List down small acts of kindness on separate pieces of paper (e.g. texting a family member or friend to wish them a nice day), fold and put in a fishbowl. Pick one daily to complete.
- Say a genuine “thank you” to others, such as the waiter at your local café. This can inspire them to do the same for someone else. A simple thank-you note also works wonders.
- Keep a gratitude journal or board. Have a visual space of the things you are grateful for. These could be in the form of photos, words, and objects of the people, things and experiences you’re grateful to have in your life.
Start a hobby that you enjoy
A hobby is a great way to unwind from your daily routine during your spare time. Research shows that four out of five Australians find their hobby helps reduce stress and feelings of loneliness and isolation, and improves their mental wellbeing in the long term. This is why hobbies have played an important part during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Get moving often
Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries, therefore, it reduces stress. A recent research suggests that short bursts of activities may still have health benefits, as long as it adds up to 30 minutes a day total. It’s now time to find an activity you enjoy – it could be a regular walk with your dog, reading or gardening – and make it part of your regular routine.
Stop yo-yo dieting
Many people often avoid fully participating in life while waiting for their ideal body. People who are dissatisfied with their body image typically avoid social activities, physical intimacy and getting active. This may often lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
This is why weight loss is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, and there is no shortage of diet plans and gimmicks on the market. While there are some that are good, restrictive dieting typically leads to long-term weight gain and therefore can fail from the start.
So, rather than beating yourself up about how you look, start the change by accepting, caring and loving yourself, regardless of your body size and shape. The way we view our body and how we feel towards it, can have significant impacts on our mental and physical health. Having an active appreciation of our bodies can lead to healthier lifestyle changes, overall better mood and greater life satisfaction.
Reduce screen time for more sleep time
As we enter the era where we can do almost anything using our devices, the prevalence of mental health issues has increased. A survey result from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that one in five (20.1%) of Australians reported a mental or behavioural condition in 2017-2018. It has been known that screen time is linked to poor sleep quality, as well as depression and various mental health problems. This is why the recommended leisure screen time is no more than 2 hours per day. There are certain cells in the eye that process ambient light that signals directly to the brain to regulate consciousness, sleep and alertness. So, exposure to artificial light before bedtime causes disruption in our internal clocks that affects our sleeping habits. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health.
These small steps for our self-care can make long lasting change in our lives.
The year is still young, so it’s not too late to commit to your resolutions. Set yourself up for success by getting prepared, and once you start, keep on going even if you miss a couple of goals here and there. If wellbeing is your priority this year, you may also like to check our home wellbeing guide for more self-care strategies.
Whatever your goals and resolutions for this coming year are, we wish that you a healthy and happy 2021.