By Callie McGovern | Contributor
As we begin a new year filled with more uncertainty, our collective mental health and wellbeing continues to be tested and stretched to its limits. Although it seems like the normal resting state is a perpetual feeling of anxiety, many are looking for the opportunity to welcome 2022 a bit healthier, happier, and less stressful.
Learning to prioritize our mental health is incredibly important, now more than ever. To help relieve stress that may arise this year, here are some tips:
· Prioritize fun and enjoyment: Life can sometimes feel like a series of responsibilities or commitments. This year, start planning for fun in your life. Start by looking at your week and scheduling enjoyable activities either by yourself or with someone else. For example, having a regularly scheduled plan for drinks with a friend. Next, look at the year as a whole and think about things that take a bit more planning. Examples of this would be planning a vacation or staycation or buying tickets to a play or concert.
If you feel like you’ve been overly focused on work and responsibilities, move some of your attention to the enjoyment in your everyday and make plans that you can look forward to.
· Get outside everyday: In 2022 make it a priority to get outside every day. This can be challenging especially as many people are working remotely and don’t always have a reason to leave their homes. It’s very helpful to get out of your space and into the fresh air for even a short amount of time. If you live in a city, make sure to take advantage of the parks in your area and think about scheduling a day or weekend trip out of the city. Nature is restorative, so make a plan to spend more time outside.
· Limit time on social media: We know that social media is addictive and can be harmful for our mental health. In 2022, look at your social media habits. Take an inventory of your social media use. Be sure to be honest with yourself about how much time you are spending on it and what the effect of it is. Consider setting boundaries around when, where, and for how long you allow yourself to scroll on social media. In 2022 look at your content consumption. Many of us are constantly listening, watching, or looking at some type of content. Instead of always putting on music or a podcast for your commute see what silence feels like for a change.
Create moments of silence for yourself throughout your day or week.
· Be intentional with your free time: In 2022 make a point to be more intentional with your free time. An example is if you work from home, have a ritual that signals the end of your workday and the beginning of your rest time. This could be going on a walk, shutting down your computer and lighting a candle, or changing into comfy clothes. Whatever you do let it be a signal that it’s time to relax and enjoy. Not all screen time is lacking intention, however I think many of us can get into the habit of scrolling and then being shocked by how much time has gone by. Being intentional with our time is about awareness which then allows us to really decide, “how do I want to spend my evening?” When we start to bring more awareness to how we are spending our time it often changes what we do with it.
· Focus on little habits: In 2022 think of a couple of habits that you believe will make your quality of life better. One example could be making the bed every morning. Making your bed does not take very long and coming home at the end of the day to a made bed is a wonderful feeling. It’s an act of self-care from your morning self for your evening self. This habit that takes less than 5 minutes allows you to feel more relaxed at the end of the day. Other examples of little habits that improve the experience of our day are tidying for 5 minute’s every night before bed, packing a lunch for the morning, or setting out our clothes for the next day. Whatever habit you choose to work on think of it as a little love letter from your now self to your future self and they will thank you.
There are many small things we can do in our day to cultivate positive mental health and decrease our stress to live a fuller life. Take a moment and think about how utilizing these tips can help you manage everyday stressors. And don’t forget to breathe!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Therapist Callie McGovern (MHC-LP) is with Empower Your Mind Therapy, a New York City based group therapy practice offering in-person and telehealth services to adults and teens with an emphasis on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Editor’s Note: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and does not constitute medical or other professional advice.