It is the beginning of the year; what must I adhere to stay in a mentally tip-top shape?
Nowadays, more people are aware of the need to improve their mental health. The Covid-19 pandemic caused most people to recalibrate their priorities in life, including their physical and mental health.
Those who lost their loved ones during this period attest to the psychological changes that they continue to go through.
So, before we address your question, it is important to establish why your mental health is such a priority for you this year.
Studies are clear that impulsive new year resolutions made sometimes at moments of great emotional state are less likely to be kept than well-thought-out resolutions that are based on a deeper understanding of the reasons and consequences of making the resolutions.
The New Year resolutions made by a drunk person on New Year’s eve, hardly qualify to be considered a New Year resolution.
Looking back at the history of New Year resolutions, the earliest known was made by Babylonians about 4,000 years ago, at the time in the early spring to coincide with the harvest season!
Since then, people have been making resolutions but over the years the sad news is that 25 percent of them give them up within the first week, and by the end of January, 40 percent have failed to keep them.
It is in this context that the second Friday of January is called by some people, “quitters’ day”.
Whatever resolutions you make, should be achievable otherwise you will be demotivated. Some people, for example, start the year by declaring that they will lead a “healthier life” without defining the components of what that might look like.
To improve your mental health this year do the following:
Your sleeping time should be at least seven hours per night. If you have been taking work home and surviving on 3-4 hours of sleep, stop.
The simple act of not taking work home and ensuring you get adequate sleep will be an achievable act of improving your mental health.
Familiarise yourself with sleep hygiene strategies easily available on the internet.
Similarly, get home for dinner with the family at least twice a week and decide on which days of the week those would be.
It helps a great deal if you can recruit an accountability partner. You might, for example, tell your spouse about your intentions and ask them to support you in this regard by suggesting that you both plan to be home together on the chosen days of the week.
In a similar way and regarding those that you go out with on Friday nights, you might agree that 9pm is “last order” for all of you.
That way none of you is left with the fear of missing out and they at the same time act as your accountability partners.
Spending time with the family might lead to improved relationships which are important for your mental health.
Remember to set only those goals that are achievable otherwise you might discourage yourself if the goals are too ambitious. Small cumulative goals are better than one big one.
Also read: DR NJENGA: How to manage panic attacks
We are delighted that mental health has at last been accepted as an important part of daily life.
Send your mental health questions to [email protected]