For many the start of the new year can be a difficult time. The nights are long, and January and February can seem like dark months. The constant messaging about New Year’s Resolutions and getting fit and healthy can seem unobtainable, especially if you are suffering from low mood or depression.
For 2022 our tips for a healthy new year are all about taking first steps to healthy connections, finding movement that works for you and above all else, being kind to yourself.
So, this year counter the New Year urgency to sprint back into autopilot when January arrives and take time to recognise when things are benefitting your life right now and make time for the things that will support you.
Becoming mentally healthy
Nobody can ever truly know what’s going on in your mind so give them a helping hand. If you’re having a bad day, tell them. If you are feeling tired, say it. Letting people know how you are feeling is as difficult as it is rewarding. If it is too hard to tell people start by trying to write down how you are feeling at the end of each day. Include something that you are grateful for. Some days this might be hard but it helps to focus on positive aspects and you may be surprised at the places you find them!
Spend time with positive people
If socialising is difficult for you right now, try having a virtual coffee with a friend you can’t see often or join an online course. You could look for one where you don’t have to talk but just watch and perhaps comment in the chat box as a first step to making connections.
You could try one of our Peer Support Groups if you are struggling to find someone to connect with. To find out more visit our Peer Support page here.
Coping with change
As the pandemic continues to bring changes to guidance it can leave us feeling unsettled and anxious. It can make us feel unsure about other changes we may be going through in life.
Allow yourself to have feelings and forgive yourself for mistakes. You are here and doing your best, and that’s what counts.
If you begin to feel overwhelmed take a minute to bring intent to your actions. Try:
- Bringing awareness to your breathing.
- Ground yourself by becoming aware of the sensations of your body, feeling the ground beneath your feet or the way the chair feels against your back.
- Bring awareness to your surroundings. Listen to the sounds around you.
This year, if you start to feel overwhelmed or stressed, pause, be your friend and ask yourself:
- Is this level of stress causing me a problem?
- Can I identify the cause of my stress?
- What small changes could I make to help ease my current stress?
- Could I… eat healthier, exercise, take time out, be mindful, get some sleep, meet a friend?
- Am I speaking to myself nicely as I would a friend?
Brainstorm a list of self-care activities that make you happy and schedule them as part of your daily routine. These can be as simple as making a cup of tea in your favourite mug and sitting in the sunlight that comes through your window.
Make sleep a priority
Studies have found that sleep and mental health are connected.
Between 65 to 90% of people with major depression also experience sleep difficulties. On average adults need between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night.
You might recognise some of the experiences listed below or have other difficulties with sleep that aren’t mentioned here.
- find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up earlier than you’d like to (also known as insomnia – find out more on the NHS website)
- have problems that disturb your sleep, such as panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares or psychosis
- find it hard to wake up or get out of bed
- often feel tired or sleepy – this could be because you’re not sleeping enough, not getting good quality sleep or because of health problems
- sleep a lot – which could include sleeping at times when you want, or need, to be awake.
Try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Spend the hour before bed relaxing and avoid overconsuming other people’s content online by spending hours on social media late at night. Avoid eating and drinking caffeine or alcohol for several hours before going to sleep.
Getting further help
Visit our Getting Help for Mental Health page here for contact details for emergency mental health support as well as details about how you can access Oxfordshire Mind Options sessions.
You can also contact our Information Services by:
Text 07451 277973
Call: 01865 247788