The beginning of a new year is a natural time to take stock of our lives and focus on how we feel and what we might like to change about ourselves and our habits. All around the world, there’s a collective atmosphere of the changing of the calendar ushering in a fresh new era, and there’s an expectation that this means you should put extra effort into ditching bad habits and becoming a whole new you.
For a lot of people, that might mean quitting smoking, exercising more, or focusing on a personal goal. But what about mental health? The New Year can be a great time to assess how you feel and make positive changes geared toward improving the way you feel emotionally and curbing unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors.
Make a commitment to positive changes
Many New Year’s resolutions are geared toward getting your physical self into shape — diet programs and exercise routines come to mind. But although it’s obviously important to take care of your body, it’s equally crucial to pay attention to your mind and your emotional balance. After all, sound mental health is a big part of overall wellbeing, and it can be difficult to achieve goals aimed at improving your body without the right mindset in place.
So what does that mean for your New Year’s resolutions? The beginning of a new year could mean you start practicing yoga, finally call to make that therapy appointment, or let go of unhealthy relationships.
These are all wonderful ways to approach mental health Self-Care, but you don’t have to make huge changes to see a positive impact on your own mental wellbeing. Just adding a few simple steps to your daily routine this January can bring you increased emotional balance. For example, you could try:
- Journaling: Write down your thoughts at the end of the day. Reflect on how you felt during difficult interactions and think about how you might do things differently. It might be helpful to try a guided journal experience that helps you focus on your feelings and trigger deep reflection, like this one from Malayaleesangamam.
- Set boundaries: When you’re overwhelmed, either at work or with personal obligations, it can be hard to stay calm and maintain your inner equilibrium. Practice setting boundaries by not taking on too much responsibility and asking for help when you need it.
- Meditation: Just five minutes a day of quiet reflection has been shown to be enough to positively impact your emotional wellbeing. Try finding a quiet spot in the morning, evening, or whenever you find yourself with a few extra minutes to sit quietly and turn inward. You might gently repeat a mantra of your choice, or you could just focus on the idea of quieting your body and mind. Try meditating for one week and think back on how you feel — you might be surprised at how much those few minutes can improve your mood and sense of peace.
When to give yourself a break
There’s also an argument for abandoning New Year’s resolutions altogether. Some people have opined that making resolutions just sets people up for failure if they don’t work out — and this could be especially difficult given the collective experience we’ve all gone through over the last two years. Isolation, loss of loved ones, illness, and general unease are all rampant, and it might be true for some people that focusing on mental health means letting go of the rulebook and being kinder and more forgiving to themselves.
Whatever you choose to do — make a list of resolutions, or throw it out the window — make sure you keep in mind a few key questions to ask: Are you being kind to yourself? Kindness is a big part of emotional and mental Self-Care, and just keeping this principle in mind may be enough to help guide you into a more balanced and positive New Year.
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