Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of health globally. This was true before COVID-19 (coronavirus), but the pandemic has further worsened the status of mental health.
There are several reasons why mental health has been ignored. The first one is an associated stigma. The second is a perception of mental health disorders as a “luxury good”, as opposed to actual illnesses. The additional top reasons include a fragmented and outdated service model. Some of these include the provision of mental health services mainly in psychiatric hospitals, severe lack of preventative mental health service; lagging policy changes and also a shortage of human resources.
However, with a new year, it calls for the start of a new beginning. You can give your mental health a fresh start, a change, any time you need it. We face many challenges in our lives; some come from our outer world of things and people, and some come from our inner world of thoughts, feelings, and neurological activity.
Whether struggles come from things outside of you or inside of you or both, it’s possible to give your mental health a new beginning (You Create Yourself). Your mental health is like sculpting clay. Its natural shape is beautiful because it’s the shape of you. The challenges you face dent and twist the clay, seemingly damaging your mental health and wellbeing.
Mental health is malleable, resilient and can experience a fresh start at any time. Here are some ways to give your mental health a fresh start:
- See each day as a new beginning to start fresh and shape it into what you envision.
- Practice self-care; if you’ve been neglecting yourself, here’s a great place for a new beginning.
- Discover new interests and activities to give your mental health a fresh boost.
- Massage negative thoughts and beliefs out of the clay, and create realistic new ones for a positive change.
Tips to Help You Focus On Your Mental Health This Year
Here are a few tips on how you can focus on your psychological wellbeing in the New Year, resulting in long-lasting benefits.
- Cut down on drinking and avoid drugs: You may have been drinking more than usual during the party season, and may even have taken drugs during this time. However, these substances are incredibly harmful to both your physical and mental health. It’s well-known that alcohol is a depressant, which can negatively affect your mood, making you feel low and anxious. Depending on which drugs you misuse, the effects on your mental health can range from anything from depression, anxiety and euphoria, to long-term psychosis, hallucinations and delusions.
- Look after yourself physically, to feel better mentally: Your physical health and mental wellbeing are linked, and as such, there are lots of positive changes you can make to improve your physical wellbeing that will also result in psychological benefits.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise boosts the ‘happy chemicals’ in the brain, known as endorphins, which ultimately improve your mood and sense of wellbeing. Try and make the effort to engage in some form of exercise every day, even if this is just going for a short walk, and it’s likely that you’ll feel better as a result, both physically and mentally.
- Eat healthily: It’s important to make a conscious effort to eat more healthily in the New Year, and try not to overeat. Not only does this have obvious physical health benefits, but a healthy diet that’s full of vitamins and nutrients can also have positive effects on your mental wellbeing. Research suggests that foods that are rich in folic acid (such as avocado and spinach), and omega-3 acids (such as salmon and tuna), can improve your mood and lower stress and anxiety.
- Get yourself ‘out there’: For many, January, in particular, can be a miserable month, Christmas is over, you may be eagerly waiting for your next payslip, and the dark nights can mean that all you want to do is stay at home. However, staying indoors and potentially isolating yourself, can have a negative impact on your mental health. Thus it is vital to actively look for ways to get yourself ‘out there’ in the New Year. You could try joining some form of group or club, based on something you enjoy or something you’ve always wanted to try. For example, you could join a book club, a sports team or try volunteering. Not only will this help you to get out of the house and tackle the ‘January Blues’, but you may end up making new friends, increasing your confidence, and finding a positive hobby that you can continue all year round, thus improving your overall mental health and wellbeing.
- Practise self-care: It’s so important to practise self-care as a means of improving your mental health. It can be easy to focus on the needs of other people in your life at the expense of your own needs, but taking just a small amount of time for yourself can be hugely beneficial to your psychological health.
- Discover what makes you happy: Develop an understanding of the places, people and activities that make you happy and bring enjoyment to your life. Then try to include as many of these as possible within your daily life, to boost your mood and wellbeing. You could even write these things down and refer to your list whenever you’re feeling low, anxious or stressed, as a reminder of all of the positive things in your life.
- Seek out professional assistance from a psychologist: If you find that you are struggling with a mental health problem, it’s important to recognise that specialist support is available. Contact Hisia today to find out how we can help you to overcome your challenges and take steps towards the healthy and fulfilling life that you deserve.
Sakina has experience and is well versed in assisting clients experiencing Bipolar Mood Disorder, Depressive Disorders, Post Traumatic Disorder and Anxiety Disorders.
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