Firstly, give yourself a huge pat on the back for making it through 2022 the way you have done. It has been one of the most volatile years throwing up constant challenges that have not only caused stress but placed additional emotional and work pressures on us all. From the fuel crisis, the Great Resignation through to the war and the redundancies, this year has placed incredible stress and anxiety across the UK.
As the New Year gets into full swing, it is important to remember to prioritise your emotional, mental and physical health. After a difficult year of the pandemic, plus global financial-related stress, there are many things you can do to ensure that your mental health remains strong in 2023.
Mental health issues are often overlooked in our society, even when people experience them. Too often, the seriousness of mental health problems is underestimated and not given enough attention. This lack of understanding can be a significant factor in why some don’t seek help and support when they need it most. It’s often difficult to acknowledge that a problem exists, but it’s the first step in solving one. It can be hard to recognise that something is wrong, or that you need help with a particular issue. Doing so may make us feel vulnerable and exposes our weaknesses.
However, recognising our problems is an important part of managing them. If we deny the existence of an issue, then it will remain unresolved and continue to cause stress in our lives. Acknowledging a problem doesn’t necessarily mean seeking outside help straight away either – sometimes simply talking about it can be enough to begin dealing with it constructively which can then lead to a fruitful relationship with external mental health support. We should also remember that everyone goes through difficult times and there is no shame in needing help.
Here are 4 tips for better mental health in 2023:
1. Calm your mind and make relaxation a routine
As life gets busier and more demanding, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and feel the need to constantly keep up with the demands of your job, family, and friends. However, it is important to remember that you have the power to control how you respond to stress. Relaxation techniques can help you manage your emotions when times are tough and maintain a healthy work/life balance.
The first step in controlling your response to stress or anxiety is identifying what specifically causes distress in your life. Once identified, consider implementing different relaxation techniques that will allow you to regulate your emotions and provide calming relief from tension or worry. Some popular relaxation methods include yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, journaling or simply taking time for yourself each day away from stressors and obligations.
2. Social interaction
One of the most important things we can do for our mental and emotional health is to make time for friends and family. Having strong social relationships is one of the best ways to decrease feelings of loneliness and to know that you have emotional support when you need it.
It’s easy to get caught up in work, school, or other responsibilities, but building time into your schedule for friends and family ensures that those relationships are nurtured. Making an effort to stay connected with your loved ones will help create an emotionally safe atmosphere so you don’t feel like you’re facing life’s struggles alone.
Not being able to see people in person can be tough, but technology has provided us with ways to stay connected even when we are apart. Text messages and Zoom calls are two meaningful ways to connect with others without actually seeing each other. Regular communication is essential for maintaining relationships, so it’s important that we take advantage of the tools available to us.
3. Take care of your physical health
Mental health and physical health are inextricably linked. According to the World Health Organization, both mental and physical health must be nurtured in order to achieve overall wellbeing. As we approach 2023, there are three main areas that must be targeted in order to improve the lives of individuals around the world: sleep, nutrition, and exercise.
First and foremost, retaining a regular sleep schedule is essential for good mental health as it helps regulate our hormones and gives us energy throughout the day. Secondly, make sure you’re eating healthy foods that will nourish your body and increase serotonin levels in the brain. Additionally, try some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or yoga to reduce stress levels.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which can reduce stress hormones like cortisol that can cause feelings of depression or low self-esteem. Regular aerobic exercise such as running or swimming also increases oxygen in the bloodstream which helps transport essential nutrients throughout the body including those related to serotonin production in the brain. Additionally, physical activity increases circulation keeping muscles relaxed while providing more energy and stamina throughout the day.
Nutrition plays an important role in keeping our minds and bodies functioning optimally. Eating enough proteins, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats helps keep our energy levels up, supports good digestion, and even boosts mood-enhancing hormones like serotonin. Additionally, staying hydrated is also essential for maintaining physical and cognitive function throughout the day – mild dehydration can lead to impaired concentration, fatigue, and headaches which can further compound mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.
4. Social media
In today’s world, the use of social media platforms and our access to a seemingly constant stream of news can be both beneficial and detrimental. It has been proven that continuously being exposed to this type of content can increase feelings of fear of missing out (FOMO), jealousy, isolation, and inadequacy.
Excessive exposure to news outlets or other media sources heightens our awareness about events outside ourselves—causing us to compare ourselves in an unhealthy way. Furthermore, social media has created a platform that allows users to show off their lives, making it easy for us to feel inadequate when we observe the successes or life events that others post online. This can lead us into spirals of feeling jealous or lonely as we think that everyone else is having more fulfilling lives than ours are.
The use of social media has become an integral part of modern life. As such, it’s no surprise that people are glued to their devices more than ever before. However, recent studies suggest that this constant connection could be adversely affecting mental health in some users. Research has found that those who constantly use social media often experience worsened anxiety and depression symptoms, feelings of inadequacy and unhealthy sleeping habits.
The findings come from a meta-analysis of six different studies, which surveyed tens of thousands of adults on the impact that social media had on their lives. The results indicated that frequent users reported significantly higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety than those who used the platforms less frequently or not at all. Furthermore, these individuals also felt more inadequate in comparison to others and struggled with poor sleeping patterns due to spending extended periods online late in the evening.
What do we offer?
Here at Hope Therapy, we offer UK-wide mental health and wellbeing support via relationship counselling with numerous in-person clinics across Oxford and Hertfordshire. Regardless of whether you’re on your own, married, non-monogamous, or LGBTQIA+, we have access to a team of carefully selected counsellors who can offer you virtual, high-quality counselling support.
To get in touch, book a free 15-minute counselling consultation to discuss your needs on our website, www.hopefulminds.co.uk, or alternatively contact us via telephone on 07379 538411 between the hours of 9am till 9pm from Monday to Sunday.