A brand-new decade is almost upon us, and with it comes the end of the festive period which sees millions of Britons forced to trade their quality time with family, late mornings and indulgence for early starts and the daily grind. All whilst under the increased financial strain following Christmas and the notoriously unpleasant January weather.
New Year’s resolutions have always been used by people everywhere as a way to kickstart one’s journey in the New Year and set good intentions, but often with low success. This is partially a result of people setting extremely difficult or unrealistic goals, which when left unattained end up having a negative effect on mood, self-image and positivity – ultimately the opposite of the initial intention.
Mental health treatment specialists Smart TMS, one of the UK’s leading providers of TMS therapy for depression and anxiety treatment, believe that most of our New Year’s resolutions fail because they do not focus on that which is most important – taking simple, achievable steps to care for and strengthen your mental health. With this in mind, Gerard Barnes, CEO of Smart TMS, shares his top five tips for safeguarding your mental health and kicking off the New Year healthy and happy.
Make time for yourself
Over the festive period, many of us are surrounded by family for days on end, which while very valuable can make it very difficult to get a moment alone and benefit from a bit of self-care and “me” time. This overwhelming social pressure can increase stress and induce anxiety. Therefore, going into the New Year taking some time for yourself and prioritising your own personal needs rather than giving up all of your time to others can be instrumental in maintaining your mental health throughout January. Doing small things that you enjoy such as having a hot bath, reading a magazine or book, or listening to your favourite music, can help you to ‘re-charge’ and improve your mood. Set time aside for this each day, or a few times a week, so these activities are something that you can look forward to.
Look after your physical health to help your mental health
It’s very easy to become inactive and sedentary in the festive period, making it hard to get back on the horse and form good, healthy habits in the New Year. However, regular exercise can boost your self-esteem, flood your system with endorphins and leave you feeling refreshed and energised after a long period of inactivity. It may also help those who have slightly overindulged on the Christmas chocolate to feel a bit better! Sleep is equally as important, and while many would argue that they get more sleep over Christmas due to the late mornings, our sleep quality is often negatively impacted over Christmas as a result of our inactivity and poor diet. Getting some exercise and energising your body will also help you to sleep better and get the rest necessary to recover and ensure your mind is fresh and equipped to deal with whatever January has to throw at you.
Reduce alcohol consumption and refresh your diet
The festive period represents a time of indulgence for many, with people across the country allowing themselves a few extra pints, glasses of wine and chocolates in the run up to Christmas and beyond. While this is very much to be enjoyed, many people carry these habits over into the New Year, and the resulting negative health effects can really impact your mental state during January. Therefore, it is important to recognise that an increased consumption of alcohol and unhealthy food is unsustainable, and to make simple changes to get back on track. This simple recognition of one’s indulgence is often enough to spark the change, but for those who typically struggle with transitioning back to a healthier diet, I would recommend doing a fresh grocery shop and replenishing your cupboards and fridge with some healthier, tasty options. Surrounding yourself with the right foods will make it easier to make the healthier choice, and your body and mind will quickly thank you for it.
Take up a new pursuit and meet fresh faces
For many, January can be a particularly tough month. The holidays are over, the weather is less than pleasant, and the first payslip of the year seems so far away after the strain that Christmas puts on your bank account. However, staying at home and choosing not to go out, take part in social engagements or restart your routines can isolate you and negatively impact your mental health. Taking up a new hobby or reviving an old one, particularly if this hobby involves spending time out and about with other people; for example, a sport, musical instrument or art class; will have a very positive effect on your mental health. Learning something new, stimulating your brain and spending time with people around you who are taking on the same challenge will work wonders for your mental health and positivity.
If you find that you are struggling with a mental health problem, it’s important to recognise that specialist support is available. Too many people leave their mental health problems untreated, and despite Christmas and New Year being highlights for some people, many others find the festive period to be unbearable. If a few resolutions just aren’t enough, reach out to somebody and seek the help you deserve.