You’re constantly bombarded with media telling you how you can get fit, eat better, and improve your physical health — but what about your mental health? Mental health is just as ( if not more) important than physical health, but it tends to fall by the wayside when dreaming up self-improvement to-do lists. Make mental health a priority in 2017 by incorporating these 10 habits into your plans for the new year.
1. STOP TAKING FAILURE PERSONALLY
If you’re a perfectionist, you probably set high goals and then beat yourself up for not meeting them. Instead of kicking yourself while you’re down, practice reframing failures as learning opportunities. After all, you’ll never become good at something if you don’t give yourself a chance to be bad at it first.
2. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness practices like meditation are great for the brain. Mindfulness exercises release stress, improve focus, enhance your mood, and help your mind rid itself of harmful thoughts. Keeping your home free of clutter can go a long way in helping you accomplish this as well.
3. LEARN TO DISCONNECT
Constantly browsing social media can wreak havoc on your mental health. Compulsively scrolling through Facebook and Instagram can make you less satisfied with your own life as you compare your average day to the carefully-curated photos and statuses of other people’s lives.
This doesn’t mean that you need to stop using social media entirely — after all, social networks can be a valuable way to stay connected with friends and family — but if you find yourself on Facebook every time you’re bored, you could benefit from cutting back.
4. BE MORE GENEROUS
Having fun is wonderful, but its mood-boosting effects tend to be short-lived. For an extracurricular with long-lasting benefits, try volunteering, helping a friend with a project, or just doing one good deed every week. Incorporating altruistic activity into your routine can help you feel happier and more satisfied with your own life.
5. TAKE MENTAL HEALTH DAYS
When nothing sounds worse than getting out of bed and facing the day, listen to your brain and take a mental health day. Powering through despite feeling mentally or emotionally drained can leave you feeling even worse the day after. Take time to rest and center yourself so that you bring your best self to the next day. If it starts to become hard to get out of bed more often than not, see your doctor.
6. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Every time you feel the urge to self-deprecate or put yourself down, ask yourself, “Would I treat my best friend this way?” We tend to be much harder on ourselves than our loved ones, but thinking negative thoughts about yourself can be bad for your mental health.
7. GET MOVING
You don’t have to be an ultramarathoner to reap the mental health benefits of regular exercise. Whether you choose rock climbing, spin class, or just walking around the neighborhood, you’ll benefit from the mood-boosting properties of endorphins.
8. KEEP A JOURNAL
Taking time to write a few words every day is a valuable exercise in mindfulness that can improve your mental wellbeing. However, be careful to not create a journal that’s a catalog of all your negative thoughts. Make a point to write about something you’re grateful for every day.
9. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
On that same note, practice focusing on the things you’re thankful for in life, instead of ruminating on what’s troubling you. Tell your friends and family how much they mean to you, and practice feeling grateful for your own victories. Expressing positive emotions like gratitude can help you feel happier and more optimistic in everyday life.
10. ASK FOR HELP
If you’re having more bad days than good days, ask for help. You go to the doctor for physical illnesses, and you shouldn’t treat mental illness any differently. Whether you opt for medication, talk therapy, behavioral therapy, or some combination, there’s no shame in taking care of your mental health.
Image via Pixabay by Unsplash
For assistance in creating a routine of gratitude, check out the Five Minute Journal.