In these early months of the new year, many are focused on ways to improve. Resolutions to get fit or better manage money consistently top the list of priorities, year after year. And, while these are great goals to set, there are others which may have a more significant impact on overall wellbeing. Resolutions that aim to improve mental health, for instance, will not only leave you feeling better, they may also make achieving your other goals more easily. Ready to get started? Here are four small goals that are a great way to kick start big change:
Make and Maintain Social Connections
For the introverted or socially anxious, meeting new people may sound like a daunting and unenjoyable task. However, research shows that social isolation is dangerous for mental and physical health. While it may not be easy to put yourself out there, the reward of making new connections is well worth facing the discomfort. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to strike up conversations with strangers everywhere you go. Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever to connect with those who have similar interests to your own. Find local groups of like-minded individuals and start from there.
Avoid Living a Sedentary Lifestyle
A day in the life of an average American might look something like this: Commute to work by car or public transportation. Sit at a desk for eight hours. Commute back home, and spend the evening unwinding in front of the television or while browsing the internet before bed. Increasingly, our days are spent sitting still, and the damage to physical and mental health is becoming increasingly obvious. From protecting the heart to decreasing the risk of depression, regular movement and exercise is a key component to any healthy lifestyle.
Take a Break from the Screen
For Americans, our devices have become entrenched into nearly every aspect of our lives, so much so that we spend an average of over 10 hours per day looking at a screen. From phones to computers to television, most of us are clocking significant screen time in some fashion or another. Unfortunately, this abundance of media has been linked to issues such as poor sleep quality and depression. Although it may be necessary to work on a computer or stay connected with others via a smartphone, being mindful of the hours spent on non-essential screen time and restricting them accordingly can help you feel happier and healthier.
Don’t Overlook Mental Health Concerns
Although awareness of mental health conditions has greatly increased, many still avoid seeking help when they need it most. However, any stigma associated with mental disorders represents a wildly outdated school of thought. Today, most realize the importance of addressing conditions such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, as well as the significant, positive impact that a structured treatment plan can have. For those who have concerns regarding their own mental health, an appointment with a board-certified psychiatristcan not only help eliminate worry, it can be the first step in achieving a sense of normalcy and wellbeing through professional treatment.
There is never a bad time to make improvements for the sake of one’s mental health, but the earlier you begin, the better your year may be. Start now by focusing on the resolutions above, and you may just find that they make the remainder of your goals easier to achieve.