• Latasha Becker, LMSW

8 steps to take in 2018

The beginning of a New Year is a time where many make what's referred to as a New Year's Resolution: a tradition in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.


The freshness of the new year sometimes pushes us with a little more willpower than we may usually have. This year, as you think about making a resolution, we want to encourage you to incorporate ways to take care of your health, more specifically your mental health. When you make the decision to face the struggles that may be impacting you emotionally, changing other undesired traits becomes a little bit easier.


Here are some tools that you may want to use to increase your Positive Mental Health for the year.


1.) Create a vision board for the year - How do you want your year to look? What do you want to accomplish? Grab some old magazines, poster boards, scissors, and whatever materials you like. Make it inspiring!


2.) Keep a gratitude journal - Sometimes when we journal, we focus on what has been bringing us down. Focusing on gratitude allows to see the light of each day, by looking at the positive and happiness that surrounds you. Write about 3 things that you are grateful for and 3 things that you were able to accomplish each day.

For extra journal writing prompts, check out these apps:

Grateful: A Gratitude Journal: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/grateful-a-gratitude-journal/id1197512462?mt=8

Mood tracker: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moods-tracking-for-better-mental-health/id1023271188?mt=8

Happier: https://www.happier.com/app/community


3.) Create/Continue an Exercise Routine - Exercise releases those good endorphin's that trigger those positive feelings. Exercise doesn't have to lack excitement, so choose something interesting and that you enjoy. Maybe you always wanted to take a kickboxing class, or zumba, or yoga. Maybe you do better going for a daily walk. Whatever you do, be consistent. This is your appointment with yourself, commit to it.


4.) Get Mental Health Support - Many times, we shrug off mental health struggles and convince ourselves that we'll just "snap out of it." If you know that you are struggling with something emotionally, it can be extremely difficult to deal with this on your own. Take the step to seek confidential therapy services, to help support you through what you're going through. Seeking therapy is a valuable and smart decision. Check with your health insurance to find a therapist/counselor who accepts your insurance, or check out

https://www.psychologytoday.com/

https://openpathcollective.org/ (If you don't have insurance, this is a low cost option to see a Mental Health Professional).


5.) Create Healthy Boundaries - You are in charge of your choices and have to remember that it is okay to say no to people, jobs, activities, etc., that do not make you feel good. When you define your own boundaries and understand their importance, it gives you the power to walk away from what is not good for you. This helps improve your mood, as you no longer feel the need to complain about things that are going wrong, that you have control over. Some examples of setting healthy boundaries include: limiting the time or money you give for something, maintaining privacy, speaking up for yourself, not offering to fix other people's problems.


6.) Meditate - Meditation is the act of focusing the mind to relax, improve inner awareness, and make positive mental or physical changes. Meditation helps us to feel calm, but can also help us improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, anger, high blood pressure, and other health conditions. Take a few minutes each day and as needed (in a quiet, private space) to focus on calming and relaxation using some of these tools: Deep Breathing exercises; Reflect on your day; Think about what inspires you, Visualization. Check out these links for meditation prompts:

http://www.innerhealthstudio.com/guided-imagery-scripts.html

http://www.innerhealthstudio.com/meditation-scripts.html


7.) Get enough sleep - Sleep is extremely essential to good health! It impacts your mood, thinking, energy, immune system, focus, and even how long you live. Sleep deprivation impacts your ability to think clearly, can contribute to issues with your memory, and also elevates your risk for anxiety. Having a good plan for sleep hygiene is important: limit your evening screen time, have an evening routine, avoid caffeine/alcohol/nicotine late in the day, and use your bed for sleep only. If you are experiencing more severe sleep difficulties such as insomnia or sleep apnea, it's important to address this with your Primary Care Physician.

8.) Focus on Growth - Personal development is, in the simplest of terms, the concept of you consciously evolving as a person– and regularly improving your life. It's important to reflect on if you are currently at a place in your life that you desire to be, and how you intend to grow from here. Maybe you don't enjoy your job, maybe you want to seek a promotion/new position, maybe you want to purchase a home, or make progress with financial growth. Make sure whatever your plan is for this year, it is to be fulfilled and experience growth in your personal life.

2018 is here! Let's make it a year for working on our *Personal Best*

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