Some of us may be basking in the middle of the holiday season, but others may be thinking ahead to the new year.
As we push forward and set goals for the new year, we may reflect and take stock of the past year. If this year was a tough one, spend some time dissecting the root of those troubles. Making improvements in those areas are a great way to set meaningful new year resolutions.
If you can't drill down to specifics, or if this year went pretty well for you, don't give up on us just yet. In today's post, I have 3 things you may consider in your new year resolutions, and you may not have thought of them before.
If you felt like this past year was particularly stressful, but don't consider stress to be an issue of mental health, think again. While mental health isn't as stigmatized as it was in the past, many hesitate to enter into that realm. Perhaps your parents express disdain for the term or you grew up in a household that "didn't talk about your problems with strangers".
But if you've ever had something weighing on your mind, and discussed it with a colleague or friend, you've felt that weight lifted. Sometimes a silly remark circles in our head, expanding until we can't see anything else, and only expressing ourselves out loud and hearing confirmation from others can clear the air.
Seeking help can take many forms. Headspace is an app that connects you with trained professionals, or if you're not ready for that, guides you through meditation. You might look for a support group specific to your troubles, or start by expressing your concerns to your general practitioner.
Keeping an open mind as you explore help options is key to finding a strategy that will work for you. As someone who has struggled with anxiety, I can tell you that seeking help is worth it.
go see the doctor
Make sure you have a physical exam on the books for 2019. Regular health checks (every year or two) are important for staying on top of your health, and staying off WebMD symptom checker!
If you find yourself nervous when going to the doctor, or waiting on test results, start a discussion about it with your doctor. With the quick pace of healthcare these days, your doctor may not be taking the time to explain things in terms you best understand, but bringing your concerns to their attention will improve your doctor-patient relationship.
Making simple changes in your lifestyle, such as trying new healthy foods or a new way to exercise, can bring novelty to a dreary winter routine. For example, take advantage of the benefits of hibiscus tea by brewing your own easy-to-make concentrate at home. With its naturally sweet flavor, you can make the switch from sweet tea in no time.
Look for new ways to get outdoors and spend time with friends and family (or on your own if you need some me-time). Kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and hiking are all ways to get out into the fresh air and getting the blood circulating.
A perfect segue into our next section, the benefits of exercise on mental health are boundless. (Ok, maybe not boundless, but pretty great!)
There's no need to jump in to a rigorous exercise program, or start training for a marathon. The newest physical activity guidelines in the US consolidated the last decade of research and found that any amount of physical activity confers health benefits.
So if you set a goal to work out 3 days as week, and didn't meet that goal and stopped working out completely, this one's for you! One walk a week, one weight lifting session, one bike ride - they all benefit your body.
You may find that you enjoy the social aspect of exercise and might try different types of classes. From soul cycle to barre, abandon all gender stereotypes and move your body. You'll be left feeling more positive, you'll sleep better, and your body (and mind) will thank you.
a blog about health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness from an epidemiologist / dietitian with personal trainer experience
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