It’s the new year and time to make those New Year’s resolutions that will make this year even better than the last! While many people resolve to improve their overall physical health, it is important to remember there is no physical health without mental health.
New Year’s resolutions focused on improving overall mental wellbeing may even make it easier to stick to other resolutions. This year consider setting goals that are focused on building a healthy mind.
- Feed your mind by cutting back on processed foods and adding an extra fruit and/or vegetable to your daily diet. Healthy foods that promote healthy digestive health can stimulate your body to release more serotonin which is known as our brain’s “happy chemical.”
- Add more steps to your day by walking around the house or office more often, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, and parking further away in a parking lot.
- Get plenty of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9 to 11 hours of sleep for school-age children, 8 to 10 hours for teenagers and 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for adults age 18 and older.
- Write to-do lists or keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts can help ease feelings of anxiety and stress.
- Take time to meditate or listen to music. Meditation has been proven to reduce stress in a variety of ways and allows you to take a break during everyday pressures.
- Add time for a relaxing hobby. People with overwhelming schedules may need a hobby the most. It is easy to put of things that bring you joy when you are busy tackling that to-do list. Taking a short break from that to-do list and focusing on a newly learned hobby or one you have set aside can help freshen the mind and be a mood booster when returning to those obligations.
Remember, resolutions are for improving mental health throughout the year. Be nice to yourself and don’t take on too much in the new year. Start with two or three goals and plan to add the rest. If things aren’t working, it’s OK to change the plan. Don’t throw it away, try a new way.
Chelsie Smith, RN, BSN, is a public health nurse with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.