Mental health tips for the new year

PHOTO: Keeping a journal helps you manage anxiety, reduce stress and cope with depression, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.

By Priscilla Lee, Editor–

With the transition into the new year comes the desire to change and improve some part of your lifestyle. Many of the resolutions you made most likely included more self-care, which is a good first step to boosting your mental health.

Watching your mental state has many benefits to your overall health whether you are diagnosed with a disorder or not, so here are some tips to ensure your well-being throughout this new year.

Take care of your physical health.

Drinking water, eating well, sleeping enough and exercising regularly are the steps to improving not only your physical body, but also the condition of your mind because these actions help supply you with energy and also let you get the rest you need. It is helpful to make a schedule to make sure everything gets done while not disrupting the allotted time slot for other activities.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), insomnia can be a sign or an effect of mental illness. However, short-term insomnia can be a result of stress so it’s generally helpful to avoid stressors if possible.

However, don’t go overboard and make sure your intentions to improve yourself are for the right reasons. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) suggests having a healthy body image to combat eating disorders caused by biological, psychological and sociocultural factors, and offers a hotline to call if needed. 

Begin a daily journal.

Grab a planner to plan out your days and anticipate your schedule. This will make you less stressed if you have social anxiety and need time to prepare for going out.

In addition, acquire another notebook to just let your thoughts roam freely. This could include pages for a mood tracker, gratitude log and sleep manager, or it could be a commonplace book where you store your favorite lyrics, memorable anecdotes and inspiring ideas. If you’re feeling creative, start a bullet journal, where you can combine the planner, journal and scrapbook aspects into one notebook.

Doing a brain dump on a regular basis can be a beneficial way to organize your thoughts and reduce stress. Sophomore Youyou Xu has been journaling for the past couple months after an impactful series of events in her life, and it has helped her become less self-conscious and more self-aware.

“It scared me that I didn’t have anyone to talk to, so I wanted to become the person I could talk to instead,” Xu said. 

Find a fun hobby.

Doing something you love, whether that be writing, music, art or sports, can help your mind to concentrate on one thing and cathartically relieve the pent up emotions in your being.

Sophomore Annie Zhu picked up art from her childhood friends and chose drawing as her go-to when her situation became stressful. Now, enrolled in AP Studio Art, she feels restricted by the requirements for her class art pieces.

However, Zhu discovered a new hobby she could enjoy: baking. Whenever she gets a strong craving for native Asian desserts, Zhu dedicates her weekend afternoon hours making her own Japanese soufflé cheesecakes, Chinese creamy custard buns and mango crepes. Although time-consuming, “it’s something to keep me away from my phone,” Zhu said.

Break away from your phone.

According to an article published in UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, people on their phones smile 30 percent less than those without, which indicates they don’t value social connections as much.

Strong human relationships are correlated with a strengthened immune system, higher self-esteem, greater empathy and a longer life, according to studies done by Stanford University. This could not only allow you to regulate a homework and sleep schedule, but better your overall image of yourself, so taking a break from social media, Youtube or mobile games every once in a while is a good idea.

Be forgiving to yourself.

You’re bound to feel low sometimes, but don’t hate yourself for failure, whether you consider that as receiving a bad test score or falling through with your new year’s resolutions. Accepting that you aren’t perfect and are prone to making mistakes is important to improving your mindset.

“I personally think that the more you learn to love yourself, the more you’ll find to improve naturally,” Xu said.

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