Mental Health Awareness for the New Year
In order to maintain both your mental and emotional health, it’s vital to stay aware of your own needs and feelings. Try to notice your thoughts and emotions as they occur, working to make room for them rather than letting them build up. Attempt to maintain a good balance between your normal responsibilities and the things you enjoy. Do things that positively impact others. Try to create meaning and purpose in important areas of your life. Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases your overall well-being and life satisfaction. Being useful to others and being valued for what you do can help build self-esteem.
Some other things to consider:
1) Practice self-discipline. Self-discipline leads to a sense of happiness and accomplishment, which can help you overcome feelings of helplessness and other negative thoughts.
2) Learn or discover new things. Think of them as “intellectual sweets.” Give an adult education class a try, or join a book club, visit a museum or simply travel somewhere new and exciting.
3) Try to become aware of your thoughts and feelings as they occur. Mindful awareness can be a great tool to cope with negative thoughts or feelings. Mindfulness can give you increased awareness of what is helpful to you and what is potentially harmful to you. It can also help you from reacting to or increasing negative experiences in unhelpful ways. Examples of increasing negative experiences in unhelpful ways include ruminating about past failures or difficulties, criticizing yourself for perceived flaws or avoiding people or situations.
Examples of mindful practice include things like: 1) Mindful Eating—slowly and deliberately noticing all of the tastes and textures of the food; 2) Mindful Showering—paying attention to and focusing on the sensation of the water hitting your skin; 3) Mindful Walking—slowly walking and paying attention to the sights and sounds as you walk.
There is a growing body of research that shows people who increase meaning and purpose in their lives literally grow different parts of their brains that are involved with mental well-being, emotional balance and interpersonal relationships. The effort toward mental wellness gives you a way to face struggles as they show up and to approach problems with a certain sense of kindness, wisdom and courage in order to live a full and vital life.