As we usher in the year 2024, it’s essential to acknowledge that our well-being is a priority. In recent years, the spotlight on mental health has become more intense, leading many to understand the importance of emotional wellness for overall well-being. To help you nourish your mental health and find moments of joy and peace in the new year, we present five tips to boost mental wellness, based on expert advice and strategies.
1. Start with an Honest Assessment
Understanding Your Current Mental Health State
The first step towards mental wellness is understanding where you currently stand. It’s crucial to conduct an honest assessment of your mental health, acknowledge your feelings, and understand your emotional state. Everyone has a unique mental health journey and recognising this fact can alleviate feelings of frustration when comparing oneself with others. Self-assessment is a powerful tool for personal growth.
Awareness Is the First Step
Once you have a clear understanding of your mental health state, it’s time to work on raising your awareness. Acknowledge that understanding your mental health challenges won’t magically solve them. Instead, it’s the beginning of a journey towards better mental health. Embrace the fact that mental wellness is a lifelong journey that may include bumps along the road.
2. Prioritise Quality Sleep
The Link Between Sleep and Mental Health
Getting enough sleep is crucial for mental health. Research consistently shows that quality sleep improves mood, reduces anxiety, and boosts overall well-being. If you’re struggling with sleep issues, you’re not alone. Strategies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) can help you address anxieties about sleep and find ways to relax.
CBT-I is an evidence-based treatment for insomnia. It helps people address anxieties about sleep, develop relaxation strategies, and improve sleep habits. It’s as effective as sleep medications in the short term and proves to be more effective in the long term. If you’re interested in trying CBT-I, consider reaching out to a healthcare provider or check the Society of Behavioural Sleep Medicine directory.
3. Manage Anxiety
Understanding Protective Vs. Problematic Anxiety
It’s normal to feel anxious occasionally. Anxiety can serve as an internal alarm system, improving performance, helping us acknowledge danger, and encouraging us to be more conscientious. However, when worry and fear become constant companions, it’s time to seek help.
Identifying Signs of Problematic Anxiety
If you’re constantly feeling restless or fearful, experiencing an increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, or having trouble concentrating, it might be a sign of problematic anxiety. Recognising these signs is the first step towards managing anxiety and improving mental health.
4. Break the Worry Cycle
The Power of Distraction
If you’re prone to ruminate, distracting yourself can be a powerful tool. Diversions can help shift your focus away from stressors. Simple activities such as playing a word game or listening to music can serve as effective distractions.
Dedicated Rumination Time
Sometimes, it’s beneficial not to fight the urge to ruminate. Instead, set aside a dedicated time for rumination. Start with a 10 to 30-minute timer, allowing yourself to think over things. Once the timer goes off, it’s time to shift your focus to something else.
5. Practice Gratitude
The Positivity of Gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that arises when we acknowledge the goodness in our lives and the role others have played in it. Embracing gratitude can significantly improve your mental health and overall well-being.
To reap the benefits of gratitude, express it whenever possible. Write letters of thanks, maintain a gratitude journal, or express your appreciation to friends, family, and colleagues. Such practices can boost your mood and enhance your relationships.
6. Stay Optimistic About Ageing
The Mindset Matters
Research indicates that having a positive mindset about ageing can extend your lifespan. People who are optimistic about ageing live longer than those who view it negatively.
Shifting the Focus
To adopt a positive outlook about ageing, focus on its benefits such as improved emotional well-being and higher emotional intelligence. Look for role models who are ageing gracefully, staying active, and engaged in their communities.
7. Engage in Artistic Activities
Art and Mental Well-being
Engaging in artistic activities can significantly improve mental well-being. It doesn’t require talent but a willingness to express yourself creatively.
Starting with Simple Activities
Writing a poem, singing, drawing, or colouring intricate designs can all help elevate your mood. Set aside some time each day for a creative activity to help reduce anxiety and boost mental wellness.
8. Connect with the Physical World
The Awe Walk
Take regular walks, paying attention to your surroundings. Feel the wind on your face, touch the petals of a flower, or simply notice the sky. Connecting with the physical world can be restorative and calming.
9. Take Tech Breaks
If you’re finding it hard to concentrate, taking tech breaks can help. Set a timer for 15 minutes, then silence and set aside your phone. When the time is up, take a minute or two to check your favourite apps, and then get back to work. Gradually increase the time between tech breaks to improve concentration.
10. Practice Deep Breathing
Deep Breathing and Mental Health
Deep, slow breaths can calm your mind and body, lower your blood pressure, and regulate your heart rate. Techniques such as 4-4-8 breathing, where you inhale for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, and exhale for eight counts, can be particularly helpful for managing fear and anxiety.
As we step into 2024, let’s embrace these tips and strive for mental wellness. Remember, it’s a journey, not a destination. Each small step you take towards better mental health is a victory in itself. Here’s to a mentally healthier and happier 2024!