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I’ve always struggled with the inevitable failure of New Year’s resolutions – and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve come to realise that, at this time of year, we need to be really proactive about protecting and nurturing our mental health, so we can head into spring stronger; with positivity and with a greater connection to ourselves.
So how can we do that? It’s not an easy fix, I will admit it takes time and commitment – but so does giving up booze or meat for a month, and people are OK with that! I think it’s easier for people to focus on prioritizing physical health, because it’s more tangible. But trust me, when you take the time to make your mental health a priority, you’ll be feeling that difference in no time.
First of all, you need to be proactive in controlling the messaging you consume. Even if you think you’re not paying attention to that diet plan ad, subconsciously your brain will take it in. So now is the perfect time to really think about which media you engage with, and put yourself back in control.
Maybe give your Instagram a little refresh – unfollow those accounts that make you feel bad about yourself (I don’t need anybody that’s toasting champagne from the Maldives right now!) and explore some new ones, whether that’s body positivity accounts, mental health advocates… or maybe just cat memes!!
Stop scrolling on that gossip site, block the sponsored weight loss ads on Facebook – take yourself offline altogether for a while. Do whatever’s right for you, and feel the benefits of a media messaging detox.
Be Kind To Yourself
Now you’ve controlled the external messages, it’s time to take a look at the internal ones. Protecting your mental health is as much about how you speak to yourself, as it is how others speak to you.
Constantly chastising ourselves for not being as successful as somebody else, for not being thin enough, for generally not being good enough, becomes a negative thought spiral that is insanely difficult to get out of. It becomes your default dialogue: you believe it to be true, rather than the sneaky and insidious lie that it actually is.
It takes work to switch your inner monologue and it’s something I’ve been trying to work on a lot more. There are many written
affirmations out there, or you can even develop your own personal ones to target areas you know need work.
And when you feel yourself slipping, check yourself – would you talk to a friend or loved one like that? Probably not. So don’t say it to yourself.
Once you allow your true inner voice to be heard, you might start to discover new things about yourself, hidden talents or dormant passions.
When I began my own proactive journey of wellness a couple of years ago, it helped me to rediscover my love of writing; that natural self-expression and outlet for creativity that had been hiding beneath a weight of stress and fear. That weight quickly began to lift and I found that I emit a sense of positivity, creativity and confidence. Now I make a living doing what I love, something I never thought would have been possible.
So, give a few things a try and see what happens! Crochet and knitting have been growing in popularity because of the calm creativity they help to nurture; painting, sketching or crafts could provide a much-needed outlet in a technology-driven world; pursuing photography or geocaching could offer you a new way to see the world around you… Dance; swim; read; sing; write poetry; learn a language; play an instrument! The options are endless, depending on what element of your life you’re looking to expand or find balance within.
And once you unlock that hidden potential, anything is possible.
This is where our mental and physical health combine together, because let’s not forget the two are intrinsically linked.
This new year, consider nurturing yourself with good food, kind words and restorative practices.
The idea of a New Year’s resolution may seem daunting, so try to avoid the all-in approach. The key is to identify what small changes you can make to positively impact your wellbeing. These small changes are both more achievable and sustainable and can then develop to become better habits for the long term, rather than just a short-term challenge.
You also want to think about upping your self-care game. And you’ll be pleased to hear that it doesn’t need to involve anything expensive or out of the ordinary, and with lockdown (still) going, you don’t even need to leave the house. You just need to make yourself a priority, in whichever way that looks to you. And you need to find the time every single day. Because nobody’s batteries are fully charged off the back of one facemask. On Monday, make a healthy meal; Tuesday have an early night; Wednesday, put your phone down and read a book; Thursday, resist that ‘it’s nearly Friday’ bottle of wine; Friday, listen to an album you haven’t heard in years. Small things every day will keep your wellbeing in tip top condition.
And for me, as a busy working Mum of two, I’m all about the baths. I’m hunched over my desk, I’m wrangling children, I’m juggling responsibilities – by the end of the day, my body and mind is tired. My escape is the bathroom, my own mini spa, with the door firmly locked and candles burning. I pour in my Westlab salts, breathe deep and feel the essential oils get to work, feel all the natural ingredients start to nourish and restore my aching body and calm my busy mind. I simply don’t think I’d feel human without them. Mindful is the perfect product for this time of the year, if you’re looking to clear your mind and relax your mind and body then this is the perfect product for you.
I really hope my top tips inspire you to take care of yourself as we head into another year; don’t forget to let me know how you get on.
Jo, My Anxious Life x