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8 Steps to Making Your Mental Health A Priority in the New Year

     

Each New Year many of us make resolutions to improve our physical health or career status, but we often overlook our mental health. Taking care of your mental health can mean seeking professional support and treatment, but it can also mean taking steps to improve your emotional health and well-being. Making small changes can pay off in many aspects of your life, including boosting your mood, increasing resilience and improving your quality of life. Consider incorporating some of these actions into your daily routine.

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Practice Positivity. Research shows that how you think about yourself can have a powerful effect on how you feel. Practice using words that promote feelings of self-worth and personal power. Give yourself a positive pep-talk.

Put Your Gratitude in Writing. Gratitude has been linked with improved well-being and greater happiness. A great method to increasing feelings of gratitude is to keep a journal. Make it a regular practice to write a few thoughts a day to see a long-term benefit. Find something to be grateful for and write about it.

Use perspective and focus. Being mindful and living in the present allows us to let the negative experiences from the past go. You can begin by being mindful during routine activities–brushing your teeth, having lunch or commuting home. Pay attention to physical sensations, ambient sounds or the sights and smells around you.

Get Moving. Your body releases endorphins when you exercise, helping to boost your mood and improve your overall well-being. Find small ways to add activity to your day, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or going for a short walk during a work break. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Try to do it outdoors if possible, spending time in nature is a proven stress reducer.

Open Up & Start Talking. Why talk about your problems including mental health challenges? Just talking about your situation to someone can reduce your stress and help you feel better. It can also help those close to you understand you better and be prepared to provide the support you need. Talking to family members and friends may also help relieve their concerns about you.

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Practice Acts of Selflessness. Being helpful and kind – and valued for what you do – is a great way to build self-esteem. The meaning you find in helping others will enrich and expand your life. Research has shown that being helpful to others can improve how you feel about yourself. So, try to do something nice for someone daily.

Take a Break and a Deep Breath. When it all just seems like too much, try just stepping away for a moment. Do anything else but what is stressing you out until you feel a bit better. Use a simple breathing exercise by closing your eyes and taking deep breathes until you feel calm again.

Set an Alarm To Go To Bed. Sleep can restore your mind and body. The immune system repairs itself and the brain rests and recharges while you sleep. Without enough sleep, you can't function at your best. Set an alarm reminder to help you get to bed at a regular time each day. Practice good habits to reap the benefits of better sleep and try to shut down screens at least an hour before going to sleep.

Make your mental health a priority - start today. It’s easier to form and keep new habits when you are feeling strong. Pick and choose which ideas above resonate with you or try implementing one idea each month. Don’t give up. You can do this!

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