Happy New Year! For many people, January is a time marked by reflection and resolutions. It’s a chance to adopt a reenergized perspective. And let’s face it: After another challenging year, we are all in need of a fresh start, especially when it comes to taking care of our mental health.
It’s no surprise that the pandemic has taken a toll on our mental wellbeing. After months (and months) of isolation, financial stress, and health concerns, depression has increased, now affecting over 40 percent of American adults. Additionally, more than 11 percent of the people report unmet mental health care needs. Plus, healthcare professionals consider the mental health crisis among kids to be a national emergency, with young girls and children of color particularly at risk.
Three Ways to Improve Your Mental Health in the New Year
So what can you do to take care of your mental health in 2022? Below, let’s consider three ways to take care of yourself in the new year.
- Practice gratitude: Research shows that being grateful each day helps you remain optimistic in the face of challenges. Plus, it helps to boost your immune system by lessening your body’s cortisol response to stress. Start by simply recognizing the good in every day. You can talk about it at the dinner table (include your kids as well!) or write it down in a gratitude journal before bed. This habit will have a lasting impact as you face the ups and downs of the year ahead.
- Put yourself first: At the start of each day, check-in with yourself. How are you feeling? What do you need to be your best self today? Whether it’s a long walk, a few minutes of meditation on the beach, a warm bath, or a phone call with a friend, devote some time to your wellbeing. Be sure to stay up-to-date on your annual appointments as well. You’ll immediately feel accomplished as you check those must-do’s off your list! Connect with your loved ones too and encourage them to focus on their own happiness and health. Remember that self-care isn’t selfish.
- Talk about it!: Finally, we need to remove the stigma surrounding mental health — which starts by discussing your own experiences. Fortunately, these conversations are already becoming more common. Simone Biles put her mental health first when she chose to withdraw from women’s team gymnastics at the Tokyo Olympics. Similarly, tennis player Naomi Osaka dropped out of the French Open due to her personal struggles. Additionally, mental health is playing a bigger role in the media we consume. For instance, the storylines of the Emmy-winning television show Ted Lasso have put the topic front and center — and it’s already had a notable impact on viewers. As lead actor and co-creator Jason Sudeikis recently said, “[We] get messages daily from people thanking us for really opening their eyes to what it means to go to therapy…and just speaking about these things and taking the stigma off of any form of health. Anything you can do to help yourself helps those around you.”