For many of us, the holiday season – is celebrations! food! family! – then you roll right into a brand new year without missing a beat, checking in with your mental health is a good way to start the new year.
We’re given a blank slate, a time to start over, but it can be overwhelming to know where to begin, and what we need to be successful.
Adding to this confusion is a media that spread harmful messages about “new year, new you” resolutions and that we need to constantly change or achieve more.
Looking for a therapist near me and live in Seattle, Bellevue or anywhere in Washington State? We’ve got you covered!
You Don’t Have To Change
The good news: is you don’t have to come up with goals to “be better,” “do more,” or be more productive. You are already enough. And if you enjoy creating new years resolutions, great!
Goal-setting can be a wonderful way to keep accountable, as long as goals are small and manageable, without dipping into shame and self-criticism. If we approach our goals mindfully, we can find more ease and alignment in our lives.
As we reflect on the previous year and look forward, it’s important to think about the small habits, practices, and ways we can shape what’s to come.
While we can’t control the future, it can be helpful to plan and make space for the things we desire.
Caring for ourselves and our mental health will allow us to approach the coming year with more joy, less anxiety, and a bright outlook.
Below are 5 tips that will help you center your mental health needs in the coming year in addition to working with an online mental health counselor:
1. Physical Activity
Physical activity is so important, obviously for our bodies, but also our brains. It can reduce depression and anxiety, improve stress regulation, and improve brain function. And it doesn’t have to be much! Short workouts and walks can often do the trick. Committing to good mental health can look like taking a few steps each day.
This one can be tricky for so many of us, as sleep is the first thing that gets cut when we’re stressed and overworked. But it shouldn’t be; sleep is foundational to our well-being. It’s not just about the length of sleep, but the quality of our sleep. Scientists suggest calming routines before bed for falling asleep, and changing our environments (cool and dark) to get the benefits of rest. Everything – our bodies and attitude – seems to operate better when we sleep!
3. Get Outside
In the beginning of the year, it’s often hard to motivate; it’s cold, it’s dark, and the weather can be unpredictable (especially in the Pacific Northwest!). And while staying cozy on the couch can be #wintergoals, it’s important to get outside, too. In addition to getting our daily doses of Vitamin D, breathing fresh, cold air can be deeply invigorating and refreshing. If it’s just a five-minute work break, or a 30-minute walk, stepping outside can be one of many cures for the winter blues, and a clear way to improve mental health.
4. Relationships Are Key
If there’s anything we know from happiness experts is that at the end of the day, warm relationships are crucial to healthy and fulfilling lives. Having close relationships allows us to process feelings, and sharing the struggles and triumphs of our daily lives. Having a friend or significant other to laugh with or act as a sounding board can help us feel supported and loved. Leaning into our relationships, communities, and social connections, especially when life gets overwhelming, will allow us to successfully navigate the circumstances of our day to day.
5. Try Something New
New Years is a time of hope and optimism – a great time of year to try something new. Whether it’s an art class, roller skating, or piano lessons, challenging ourselves, and feeling a range of emotions is a big part of what makes us human. Being human, and “feeling all the feels” is something to accept, not resist. Finding joy, embracing change, and experiencing what it means to be human can ease anxiety and help us feel whole. Feeling bold (and scared, together) can change how we approach daily situations, enabling us to live healthy and productive lives.
Mental health is important at the start of the new year and all year long. Good mental health can be prioritized throughout the year with the help of an experienced online mental health counselor. While creating new year’s resolutions is a great tradition, it can often backfire without a consistent plan; finding a supportive therapist can help immeasurably.
So celebrate the new year by celebrating the wonder that is you. Focusing on all aspects of your health and well-being, including mental health, will allow for a happy new year and a happier, healthier you.
Lindsey Ferris, MS, LMFTA, Washington State