For many, New Year is associated with a fresh start and prompts us to look at ways we can begin the year with a fresh outlook and healthier mindset. We often set ourselves idealistic New Year’s resolutions such as joining the gym, finding a new job, spending more quality time with the family, or eating more healthily.
Some may also decide to work on improving their mental health. Here, we have looked at five ways you can boost your mood to help improve your overall mental health and wellbeing for a positive and productive year ahead.
Look after your physical health
Physical health is linked to mental wellbeing, so changes that you make to improve your physical wellbeing will also have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing. Some example of these include:
Eating a healthy diet
Over the festive season it can be easy to indulge in all the festive treats. In the New Year, try to keep to a healthy diet, containing lots of vitamins and nutrients from fruit and vegetables. From previous research, foods such as avocado and spinach, which are rich in folic acid, as well as foods such as salmon and tuna, which are high in omega-3 acids, have been proven to be beneficial in improving your mood and wellbeing.
When you exercise, this boosts endorphins, which are known to be the ‘happy chemical’ in the brain. Ultimately, regular exercise like walking, swimming, going for a run or to the gym, will not only improve your physical health, but will have a positive impact on your mood and overall sense of wellbeing.
Getting plenty of sleep
Sleep helps our bodies to repair and recuperate, both physically and mentally. Therefore, the amount of sleep we get effects how well we function on a daily basis, and the state of our mood.
With very busy lives, it can be difficult to get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, but there are a few steps that can be taken to help achieve this:
- Try to get into a healthy sleep routine so you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including at the weekend, so you remain in a healthy pattern
- Avoid napping during the day as this may cause you to struggle to sleep at night, impacting on your routine
- Avoid using electronic devices before going to bed, as the light from such devices overly stimulates the brain which will make it difficult to get off to sleep
- Limit caffeine and sugar before bed as these could make you feel anxious at night. It is also good practice to limit the amount of liquids you drink before going to bed as this could lead to sleep interruptions, with frequent visits to the toilet.
Learn new skills
January can bring on the ‘blues’ for some, with all the festivities being over, having to get back into your daily routines, and having less time to socialise with family and friends.
This makes it a good time to start something new. Taking a positive step like starting a hobby or joining a group or club will help to boost your mood and also increase your confidence, which in turn will improve your overall mental wellbeing.
Work on your self-care
It can be so easy to focus on what has to be done to get through each day. However, it is so important that you also take into account your own needs.
Plan some ‘me’ time
Plan in time for yourself as often as possible. This could involve doing the small things that you enjoy, such as reading a book or magazine, taking a relaxing bath, or listening to your favourite music.
This will give you something to look forward to and will help you to rest and recharge.
Discover what makes you happy
Discover the places, people and things that bring enjoyment to your life. Write them down and refer to these as positive things in your life when you are feeling low in mood – this will help to give you a boost.
Be kind to yourself
We are often so critical and hard on ourselves, which can have a negative impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Negative thought patterns and self-talk can impact on our self-esteem and resilience. If you find you often fall into negative thought patterns, and criticise yourself over the small things, stop and ask yourself if you would talk to a friend in the same way. If the answer is no, then try to be kinder to yourself.
Take a break from social media
Social media can have many benefits and be a good way to remain in contact with family and friend, especially if you live very far away. However, some behaviours occur when using social media that have the potential to negatively affect our mental health.
Constantly looking at our social media pages can be detrimental to our mood, especially when we start scrolling through the seemingly ‘perfect’ lives of others. This unrealistic snapshot can cause us to feel inadequate, that we are not able to match them, putting idealistic expectations on ourselves.
To help improve your mental wellbeing, at the start of the year, try logging out of your social media accounts for a temporary period and monitor the effect this has on your mood, stress and anxiety levels. You may discover that you feel happier without the constant stream of insight into other people’s lives, and find you have more time to enjoy doing other activities.
Connect with friends and family
It can be difficult to keep in contact with friends and loved ones, especially when life gets busy, but maintaining good relationships is important for our mental wellbeing. In the New Year, you may want to try the following:
- Try to connect regularly with others by telephone orvideo chats, rather than text or email, as this personal connection will help improve your mood greatly
- Spend time each day connecting with family, without distractions, for example, you may want to eat your evening meal together
- If you live far away from family, keep in touch by video call so you can speak ‘face-to-face’
- Try to arrange catch ups with friends you haven’t seen for a while
Get professional help
If you find that you are struggling with your mental health, it’s important to recognise that specialist support is available. Our experienced psychiatrists and psychologist are committed to providing everyone we see with the expert treatment they need in order to start feeling better.
More information about the mental health treatment we offer can be found here.