Mental health is an ongoing journey, and one that most of us struggle with to various different degrees. While there’s no magic ingredient for mental wellbeing, there are things we can do to help us each day. So perhaps this year our New Year’s resolutions can be dedicated to – well, if not the pursuit of happiness, at least a little peace – even if it’s just for a moment. Here’s a few ideas for New Year’s resolutions to help manage your mental health and wellbeing
We hear a lot about healthy eating when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, but it’s generally in reference to weight control, and not a lot of conversation is dedicated to gut bacteria in the process. Did you know that there is a direct communication between the liver, gut and how brain chemistry is managed via the vagus nerve? This has a direct impact on anxiety levels and stress resilience. We can improve the health of the vagus nerve and our gut bacteria is key to doing that. So we need to feed it! Foods that help include plenty of fibre (vegetables, low sugar fruit, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils), fermented foods (natural yoghurt and mature cheeses, kefir and vegetable ferments). Also, try to avoid refined sugar where possible as it will preferentially feed the less desirable microbes in the gut.
So much around New Year resolutions has historically been devoted to pushing the body – gym memberships traditionally soar and there’s a predictable rise in sportswear sales. It’s not a bad thing to dedicate yourself to more exercise in the New Year – far from it – but it doesn’t have to be about beating yourself up. Instead, think about your body holistically and make choices that help you feel good. Perhaps that exercise is simply a daily walk in the fresh air. Or perhaps it’s making a monthly commitment to a spa treatment – which have been known to have a positive impact on mental as well as physical health. Some have an even greater impact than others, so why not explore the options available. For example, cranial osteopathy, acupuncture and emotional freedom therapy can all make a huge difference.
Such a simple thing, but when we’re stressed we literally forget to breathe enough – have you ever noticed that? Sometimes we need a little nudge to do this most natural of things. Many spas and wellbeing practitioners are able to introduce you to positive breathing techniques that can be really helpful for mental health and anxiety. At Grayshott, for example, they practice breathing for many physical and mental health issues ranging from asthma to anxiety. The ability to control your breath, in turn has an impact on your capacity to control your emotional reactions. It’s all about giving you the tools to help support mental health.
It’s amazing how quickly the weeks can disappear – even in a year like 2020. It’s not news that talking can be a really wonderful way of untying the knots in your head – a problem shared is a problem halved and all that. However, to really check in with someone, it requires more than a 15-minute catch up over coffee. Make a commitment to phone a friend, scheduling a call and having a good old natter once a week over a proper amount of time. It could make all the difference in the world to you, to them or to you both.
Tidying up won’t solve all your mental health challenges, but there is some truth in the idea that a tidy workspace or home helps to create a tidy mind. It’s hard to think when the space around you is a mess. Over the course of the week, it’s easy for things to get untidy, but making a commitment to put things away once a day or as you go along – whatever works for you – can help you to feel more in control, and think a little clearer – try it! See if it works!
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