These past few years have really highlighted the importance of mental healthcare in our society. We battled the pandemic, but the isolation, loss and grief took its toll on everyone. With those trying times behind us, the coming year brings with it 365 opportunities to start afresh!
Let’s dedicate this coming year to improving mental health. Refocus and work with ourselves to enhance our mental peace. Resolve to respect and promote the well-being of everyone around us as well. Let’s set sail on the journey towards mental well-being.
Here are 24 easy resolutions you can follow in 2024:
1. Prioritize self
Make the resolution to look after yourself and put yourself first. Take time out for what makes you feel happy, positive and safe. It is not selfish to help yourself before others. Practice self-care to re-energize and restore your spirits going into this new year.
2. Show kindness to yourself
We have a tendency to hold ourselves to higher expectations and be more scrutinous of our mistakes. Forgo expectations, forgive mistakes and just enjoy the journey that life takes you on.
3. Be more in the present
Immerse yourself in your surroundings. Be in touch and aware of where you are right now, what are you doing, how fast or slow you are breathing. Don’t waste time lamenting over the past or worrying about the future. Enjoy the experience of being in this present moment.
4. Celebrating the small wins
Appreciating our efforts, celebrating our achievements results in a tremendous confidence boost. It releases hormones like endorphins, serotonin and dopamine which positively impact our further performances. Recognize and acknowledge completing every little milestone on your path to the final goal.
5. Set an exercise routine
Regular aerobic exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling etc. Are beneficial as they increase blood flow to the vital areas of the brain and body, regulate stress response cycle, enhance release of positive hormones and reduce symptoms of an existing mental health condition like depression and anxiety. So resolve to dedicate 45-60 minutes everyday towards setting an exercise routine.
6. Eat healthy and stay hydrated
There are various studies establishing a strong link between the food we eat, our gut and our mental health. Some helpful dietary changes you can make this year are – eat regularly to avoid fluctuations in sugar levels, increase whole grains and fibrous food, reduce sugars and fatty foods. It is equally important to stay hydrated as lack of water affects concentration and mood. It is advised to drink at least 3-4 litres of water per day.
7. Follow sleep hygiene
Sleep is an important moderator of mental well-being. Many mental health disorders are precipitated due to lack of sleep. Some easy to follow sleep hygiene steps include – avoid screen time close to sleep time, no caffeinated drinks after 7pm, use comfortable bedding, block out distracting sounds or noise, and avoid day-time napping.
8. Explore Yoga and Meditation
A number of studies have shown that yoga positively affects mental health. It enhances mental clarity, awareness, reduces stress, regulates bodily functions and increases certain chemicals in the brain which enhance cognitive functions. Meditation helps regulate breathing which brings about a sense of peace and calm, and also helps reduce anxiety and panic attacks.
9. Taking a break from social media
Social media, while being a medium of connectivity and creativity, can also negatively impact emotional wellness. The negative comments, fear of missing out and need for constant validation fuels anxiety, depression, substance use and various such disorders. Power down, spend some time away from the online web and interact with people or engage in physical activities more this year.
10. Spending quality time with family and friends
In this fast-paced life, we often forget to pause and appreciate those who have been with us during the good and bad times. This year, plan a vacation or getaway with your loved ones and make happy memories that will last you a lifetime.
11. Use work leaves
Everyone’s work contract permits them to take a set number of casual leaves per year. Then why do we not? Work is not all worship. Utilize those leaves and give your mind and body the well-earned rest.
12. Rediscover your hobbies
Do you remember the joy you would feel when you would add a new coin to your collection, finish a new book, sign off on your new painting or set a dance routine? Let’s rediscover that happiness, improve our activity levels and enhance our mental capacities by taking up our hobbies again this new year.
13. Reconnect with nature
With the concrete jungle growing around us, let’s resolve to do our bit to connect with nature this year. Take a walk in the morning sunlight and absorb the Vitamin D, breathe in the fresh air of your nearby park, plant trees to battle pollution, use sustainable fuels, keep the water bodies around clean, and follow the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
14. Importance of planning and organization
There is an ever-increasing load of work on everyone each year. How does one manage and deal with it? Staying organized is key. Make a list, prioritize important and urgent works, set reminders and plan in advance to avoid hassle closer to deadlines.
15. Time management is key
Have you ever wished there were more than 24 hours in a day? A lot of us struggle with time management. Some tips which may help are – evaluate how you spend your time at present, set time limits, chunk similar work together and learn to delegate work.
16. Maintaining a journal
Writing our thoughts, feelings and ideas is helpful in supporting mental health by reducing anxiety, regulating emotions, improving clarity of thoughts and actions. It acts as a medium for catharsis. Start journaling daily before going to bed at night. Also make it a point to focus on positive thoughts and expressions of gratitude which act as positive reinforcements.
17. Appreciation of others
We often find ourselves to be in competition with everyone around us. It spurs negative emotions like jealousy, sadness, anger and self-criticism. This year, let’s try to share in the happiness of others, appreciate their achievements, learn from their successes and maintain a healthy relationship with peers and colleagues alike.
18. Pick up a new skill
Mastering a new skill provides one with a sense of achievement and acts as a confidence booster. It doesn’t matter how big or small the skill is – whether it is how to fix a button, fix a meal or fix a tire – as long as it is something new, take it up this year.
19. Learn to say no
We feel morally and socially obligated to do things we are uncomfortable doing. We want to please and be accepted by others. It is ok to say no when we are uncomfortable or inconvenienced. It is crucial for our mental stability to clearly, firmly and respectfully say no and set boundaries.
20. Use substances in moderation
Abuse of harmful substances like alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and hard drugs can result in various domains of life being affected. It causes low mood, anxiety, anger, irritability, reduced mental capabilities, financial loss, interpersonal troubles and disrupts work as well. It also impacts physical health
21. Giving back to the community
Contributes towards betterment of the community, providing one with a sense of purpose and fulfilment. It gives one a sense of gratitude and enhances happiness. It also reduces depression, anxiety and a sense of isolation. This new year, let’s do our bit towards our community and give back to the less fortunate in whichever way we can.
22. Seek help at the earliest
There is no shame or harm in seeking help from a professional for your mental health concerns. It is important to recognize warning signs of mental health disorders as soon as possible. Early intervention helps develop appropriate coping skills and resilience, as well as managing and recovering from illness.
23. Stick to the treatment plan
Continuing the plan of management is as important as seeking help. Whatever is mutually agreed upon, whether therapy or medications, must be meticulously followed. This is essential for optimal health outcomes and to return back to the regular routine of life.
24. Destigmatize and spread awareness about mental health
The biggest hurdle to seeking mental Healthcare in our country is stigma. It is the negative perception towards anyone having a mental health problem. This new year, let’s resolve to be more supportive of ourselves and others , and help spread a positive word about mental well-being and health.