IN BRIEF

New Year’s Resolution: Be Mentally Fit

January 4, 2019
Written by

Gina McDowell, LPCC, share tips for creating resolutions to stay mentally fit in 2019.

Lose weight. Eat better. Get in shape. Get organized. Stop procrastinating.

We’ve all set these types of resolutions. They’re usually based on appearance, physical health or performance. Accomplishing them is generally another stressor. Failing to achieve them becomes another burden. So should we scrap resolutions all together? Or learn how to make better ones?

We know mental health is just as important as physical health, and if you’re a health care provider, you’re probably telling your patients and their families this on a regular basis. But do you practice what you preach? With growing demands on health care professionals and an increased focus on the need to build resilience, taking action to stay mentally fit is critical for everyone. By focusing some New Year’s resolutions on mental health, we can focus on helping ourselves and others.

If you’re wondering where to start, here are three ideas:

Get enough sleep. For many of us, this seems like an impossible task, but sleep is one of the most important things we can do for both physical and mental health. It affects our ability to function, and lack of sleep can make us feel stressed and anxious. Sleep also helps improve our mood. We are so much more productive when our body and mind are rested. If a solid 8 hours seems as likely as a round trip ticket to the moon, start with an achievable goal, like getting an additional 30 minutes of sleep a night. Once that has become the new normal, try adding more time in increments until you are feeling rested after a night’s sleep.

Practice gratitude. Find something you are thankful for every day. Then, write it down or say it out loud, even if it is something small. You can do this as a family, with friends or even with co-workers. Showing gratitude improves our overall mood and builds resilience.

Be here now. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on one thing in the moment. You can practice mindfulness in many ways, but it is especially important when you are taking “breaks.” For example, if you go for a short walk around the neighborhood to “relax” but are thinking about everything you still need to do or ruminating about a problem, it will be hard to feel refreshed. But what if, while you’re walking, you really paid attention? Look at the colors of the leaves and the sky, listen to the sounds around you, and take a big breath in to smell the air. Just allow yourself to be present in the moment and take a mental break.

Interested in other ideas to stay mentally fit? Download our list of 21 suggestions for mental fitness – a free resource for you and your patients.

Mentally Fit Challenge