A new year is often time for renewal and change. There is something that feels significant about going from one year to the next that makes many of us feel motivated to make positive changes to different areas of our lives. The most common resolution for change is to physical health and weight – but what about our mental and emotional health?
There has been a great deal in the media recently regarding the importance of taking care ourselves emotionally and psychologically. It’s clear there is a direct and important correlation between being psychologically healthy and being physically healthy. It’s a symbiotic relationship with each having a profound effect on the other. While most of us know the hallmarks for positive physical health changes, the changes that can have a significant positive impact on our mental health are not as often discussed.
Take a look below for 6 important changes you can make to ensure that the coming year is your best mental and emotional year ever.
• Be mindful and present. Mindfulness has been a hot topic recently. But make no mistake – it’s not a passing fad. We are learning more about the benefits of being mindful and present in our daily lives. The practice of mindful meditation helps to increase focus and progress toward goals as well as reduce stress and anxiety. Rather than allowing your mind to run amuck, worrying about everything and everyone, you spend more time in the moment, understanding and appreciating your current environment and the people around you.
• Become more intentional. The practice of being intentional means that you are actively engaging in your life and the choices you make. It really is about making a choice everyday about who you want to be, how you want to feel, and taking steps that support these intentions. Consider it a conscious attempt to find happiness in each situation and through your own actions.
• Be clear about your boundaries. Boundaries help you set guidelines for what you will and won’t accept in your life. They are important for not only helping you determine your pathway through life, but also for ensuring that you are treated in a way that is acceptable to you and healthy overall. Setting boundaries isn’t always easy, however. You will first need to establish them within yourself and feel confident in enforcing them both with yourself and outwardly to those around you. This can take practice but, as with anything, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Clear boundaries make your life easier and happier. Be prepared, however, adhering to them will also be met with respect and appreciation from some and resistance from others.
• Firmly reject toxic people. We don’t always realize how affected we are by those around us. Or how alluring toxic people can be. Toxicity in people can take on many forms – anything from constant negativity, to narcissism, to anger problems. People contending with these issues often posses a certain charisma that can draw you in, and before you realize it you can be exhibiting similar behavior, or feel weighed down and exhausted by their presence. So firmly refusing to allow them to have a place in your life will leave you feeling happier and definitely living healthier. This doesn’t mean that you have to be rude or ugly to those you consider toxic – just make a point of steering clear of them and limiting your interactions (i.e. setting boundaries).
• Accept imperfection. You are not perfect, you actions are not perfect, the results of your efforts are not perfect – accept this. Letting go of unrealistic expectations and your inner “perfectionist” can be very freeing and allow you to experience greater happiness and mental health. Just think of the stress and anxiety that you will alleviate by changing your expectation of perfection and aiming instead for a reasonable and acceptable result. Let’s be clear – this doesn’t mean mediocre or sloppy. It means doing things to the best of your ability and recognizing when you have reached a point where additional time and effort is going to be met with diminishing returns. Sometimes good enough is good enough if it means you can avoid stress and move on to more productive and enjoyable endeavors.
• Be more selective in your efforts. Are you a “yes” shotgun? Do you try and do everything? Stop – just stop. No matter who you are, you have limited time and resources. One way to improve your emotional and psychological health is to be selective in your efforts. This means understanding and respecting a few things about yourself:
1. Where are your efforts are best spent? (prioritize)
2. Where are your strengths?
3. Where do you find most enjoyment?
Knowing these things will allow you to target your efforts by being selective and ultimately be more successful in what you do.
Keeping these six points in mind and putting them into practice will help you improve your emotional and mental health as you move through the coming year. But be sure to give yourself time as you are putting these new things into practice. Nothing happens overnight.