Every January, people around the world flock to gyms to start a new fitness routine. But as you’re getting your body into shape, don’t forget to take care of your brain too! Here are eight tips to keep your mental health in check in 2016.
- Get social.
Did you know that chronic loneliness ups your chances of an early death by 14 percent…and feeling alone can make you feel literally colder? Warm up both your heart and your body by ditching hibernation mode and getting social this year! Make new friends, call up the old and reconnect with your family. You should have at least one meaningful conversation (talking, not texting) each day. While it’s better if it’s with a friend, chatting with a waiter is OK on some days too.
- Seek out fun.
If you wait around for fun to occur, you’ll never find it! So it’s crucial to actively seek out joy in your life. Plan a vacation with your best friends, or just take a little time for your hobbies each day. Otherwise, you might find yourself drowning in work all year.
- Accept your pain.
If you have a bad mental health day, don’t force yourself to smile! It’s OK to have bad days sometimes, so don’t feel guilty about it. If you have several bad days in a row, it might be time to seek professional help. But if you need a few hours to wallow, let yourself do that.
- Give yourself a break.
Going on vacation is essential to your mental health. But giving yourself a break also means relaxing for a few moments on your most stressful days. It means recognizing that perhaps you’re not ready to make a major life change and giving yourself permission to postpone it until you feel more ready. Get rid of the “shoulds,” and act in a way that takes care of you.
- Keep a journal.
Did you know that keeping a journal is great for your mental health? By writing about your feelings and experiences, you gain new perspective and clarity. Plus, keeping a journal reduces stress and boosts your immune system! Try it out for just 10 minutes a day to start.
- Make your bed.
Think making your bed won’t have any bearing on your mental health? Think again! Mastering your physical environment will give you a sense of control that will help you feel better about your mental and emotional health. So start your day by making your bed – your brain will thank you.
- Chill out.
Everybody gets pressured sometimes. But there’s a major difference between someone who stays cool no matter what and someone who’s constantly panicked, and that difference lies in how well they’ve mastered stress relief techniques. So learn how to cope with stress, whether it’s by EFT, meditation or deep breathing. And if you know you’ll be facing a stressful situation, be prepared! Eat right and get a good night’s sleep before a meeting with your boss.
- Find your thinking traps.
The difference between an optimist and a pessimist is how they view every situation. So it’s important to watch out for “thinking traps,” – like if you think bad things always happen to you, you jump to the worst conclusion possible, or you focus on the negative aspect of an overall positive experience. If you catch yourself thinking this way, logically challenge your assumptions and present alternative solutions. You might not flip from Eeyore to Tigger, but at least your view will become a little bit more balanced.