The new year is a great time to make resolutions that offer a fresh start and promote personal growth. If you’re considering which resolutions to set, keep in mind that emotional wellness is a great area to focus on!
Emotional well-being is a cornerstone of our overall health, influencing our daily experiences, relationships, and resilience. Below, we delve into seven scientifically supported strategies, offering practical examples to integrate them into your life.
1. Mindfulness Meditation: Cultivating Present-Moment Awareness
“Mindfulness-based therapy is highly effective for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, and for treating issues such as chronic pain or addiction.” – American Psychological Association
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment with a non-judgmental attitude. For example, start your day with a five-minute breathing exercise, concentrating solely on the sensation of your breath. Apps like Headspace offer guided sessions to ease you into the practice.
Resolution: Dedicate 5-10 minutes each day to mindfulness practices like meditation, deep breathing, or mindful walking.
2. Regular Physical Exercise: Boosting Your Mood Naturally
“Exercising regularly can improve symptoms of mild to moderate depression as well as anxiety and psychological distress, a review of many prior published studies suggests.” — Harvard Health Publishing
Physical activity is a natural mood enhancer. Exercise releases endorphins, known as ‘feel-good’ hormones, which can lift your mood and reduce stress.
This doesn’t mean you need to run marathons — a daily walk, yoga session, or even dancing to your favorite songs at home can uplift your spirits. The key is consistency and choosing activities you enjoy.
Resolution: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
3. Practicing Gratitude: Focusing on Life’s Joys
“Research shows that practicing gratitude — 15 minutes a day, five days a week — for at least six weeks can enhance mental wellness.” — UCLA Health
Gratitude can transform your mindset and improve your mental health. Acknowledging the good in your life, even in small doses, is proven to have a positive impact on depression, stress, and anxiety. You can form a mindset of gratitude by incorporating it into your daily life. For example, when negative thoughts enter your mind during the day, try to shift your focus to a positive aspect of the situation.
Resolution: Keep a daily gratitude journal to strengthen your positive mindset. At the end of every day, write down 1-3 things you’re grateful for.
4. Quality Sleep: The Emotional Wellness Pillar
“Sleep is closely connected to mental and emotional health and has demonstrated links to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other conditions.” — Sleep Foundation
Good sleep is crucial for mental health. During quality sleep cycles, particularly the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, the brain processes thoughts and memories. This has been found to have a positive impact on mood and mental health disorders.
Resolution: Prioritize getting 7-9 hours of sleep. If you struggle with winding down at night, implement a calming bedtime routine. This could include reading, a warm bath, prayer, or light stretching. Aim to keep consistent sleep and wake times, even on weekends.
5. Strong Social Connections: Your Emotional Anchor
“Psychological research from around the world shows that having social connections is one of the most reliable predictors of a long, healthy, and satisfying life.” — American Psychological Association
Friendships and community serve as a protective buffer against depression and other mental health challenges. On the contrary, isolation is known to be very detrimental to both emotional and physical health.
Resolution: Invest in your relationships. Schedule regular check-ins with friends or family, even if it’s a quick phone call or coffee meet-up. If you are looking to form new connections, joining clubs or groups that align with your interests can provide a sense of community and belonging.
6. Balanced Diet: Nourishing Your Emotional State
“Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.” — Harvard Health Publishing
A balanced diet aids in regulating mood. High-quality foods provide necessary vitamins and antioxidants that help keep your brain healthy. Research has found that those who eat traditional diets that are high in vegetables, unprocessed grains, and fish — such as the Mediterranean diet — have a 25-35% lower risk of depression!
Resolution: Make sure to incorporate a piece of fruit or a serving of vegetables into each meal. It’s also a good idea to be mindful of your sugar and/or caffeine intake, as both can be harmful to your mood in excess quantities.
7. Professional Help: Embracing Therapeutic Support
“Research shows treatment for mental illness works. With appropriate treatment, people can manage their illness, overcome challenges, and lead productive lives.” — SAMHSA
If you’re struggling, consider professional help. A therapist can offer tailored strategies to manage your emotional wellness. Therapeutic treatments are effective, and the sooner you get treatment, the better you will feel.
Resolution: If you or a loved one’s mental health challenges seem unmanageable, contact a mental health provider or clinic, like RevCore.
Implementing these seven strategies can significantly impact your emotional wellness. Remember, the journey to better emotional health is a personal one; what works for one person might not work for another. Here’s to a year of self-discovery and emotional growth!