It is almost 2024. With the new year, comes the pressure to start anew, make resolutions, and so on. Well, instead of taking the same old New Year’s resolutions, which often tend to be hard to keep, why not make some steps or make some promises to yourself to improve your mental health this year?
“Train yourself to find and cherish the small moments. Simple things contribute to our general happiness more than big moments of achievements,” says Dr Prerna Sharma, Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology, IHBAS, Government of Delhi and NCT.
Mental health is a very important aspect of our health. Yet, it often gets sidelined, buried under a pile of other priorities. Here are other steps to take, so that our mental health doesn’t take a backseat this year.
“Prioritise clearing your baggage. We as human beings always tend to attach emotions to all our social dynamics. Most of it helps us and we don’t get affected much. But the key is to identify, what was hurtful, what was generating guilty feelings or emotional pain. And state it clearly– the cause and effect. Naming that feeling and saying that I’m choosing to let go of this feeling is one way of letting go of emotional baggage. Another way you can let go of emotional baggage is art, dance– choose your own creative method to do it.”
“Increase the ask– a lot of problems can be solved, if people are just able to ask. Be it from the smallest thing to bigger things. For example in a social or private setting, if you need something to make yourself or others feel more comfortable, you can ask for it. For example, at your workplace, if you notice a person is angry at you. Just walk up to the person and say, “Hey, is everything okay? Have I done anything wrong?” This clarification will help you. Simply increase the ask– it will improve your mental health. I would also say, identify your thought pattern– a single thought pattern. Sometimes identifying a thought pattern in itself will help you navigate through situations where similar emotions or thoughts come up,” says Aji Joseph, Psychotherapist for ALMONDIN, Bengaluru.
“Value slow living,” says Sharma. “Living at your own pace; having an attitude of collaboration than competition can bring more harmony and peace,” she adds.
“Have clarity about measurable purpose. Instead of thinking about big goals, focus on one doable thing. For example, one task– sleep well. Read about how sleep is beneficial for you, habits you need to change to optimise sleep hygiene and so on. This will help your mental health. For someone with acid reflux would be to manage his diet better. Another example can be as simple as deciding to smile more,” Joseph says.
Tap into knowing yourself more, and understanding your capabilities and limitations will help safeguard your mental health to a large extent.
“Also understand your spirituality (not religious in any way; but to understand a better way of self-understanding, about the world and others. Look at how your life is largely meaningful. For some, maintaining calm can be their journey towards spirituality. For someone else it could be being engaged in a hobby– something they find creative and calming,” Joseph advises.
“Forgive, forget and let go,” says Sharma. It is important to remind ourselves to be humble and grounded. So let us be sympathetic to our unfriendly neighbour, our cold coworker or a petty relative. The shared pain of humanity should bring us closer and fill us with gratitude and kindness. “Be kind to oneself,” she further says. Being self-critical is crucial for our development and growth but it can also be self-punishing at times. At such times when we struggle with criticism, we must offer ourselves the same level of loving kindness that we would give to our own children or parents. Is this thought kind enough? Am I being kind to myself? Can lead to feelings of expansion or openness, moving away from criticism to holding myself with utmost grace.”