Around this time last year, we decided to launch Wellness Wednesdays – a recurring blog post that would remind our readers, as well as ourselves, to focus on health and wellness. We felt that in this crazy time of uncertainty and stress, we could all use some helpful tips and healthful advice that would contribute to our overall well-being.
As we end 2021 and look forward to 2022, the uncertainty that we have felt for the last 22 months is still with us, and the ongoing stress has the potential to affect our mental health. That’s why we wanted to devote this year’s last Wellness Wednesdays’ post to the very important topic of mental health and wellness. Below are some of the ways we plan to improve our mental health in the new year.
We’ve talked about taking breaks while working, but this time we’re talking about taking a TRUE break from the office. Use a floating holiday, a vacation day or even just a few hours and take some time to enjoy the day, whatever that means to you. Whether it’s going for a day trip or staying in and reading a book, it’s important to recharge your batteries.
If you’re truly short on time, even a few minutes of meditation can give you a much-needed break. A study done by Michigan State University found that listening to a guided meditation for just 20 minutes a day is enough to make a positive difference in concentration and daily functioning. You can try it yourself! Listen to the guided meditation the study participants listened to here.
Did you know that something as small and as quick as a walk around the block can ease your mind? When we’re stressed, our body releases “fight or flight” hormones. These hormones served a very important evolutionary purpose by helping our ancestors survive. However, in our modern lives, these stress hormones can lead to chronic health problems. One of the best ways to combat stress hormones is through exercise.
Exercise releases neurochemicals called endorphins that can help mitigate your body’s stress responses. Whether it’s a hardcore boxing class or a calming yoga practice, take the time to help boost those endorphins. Implementing a regular physical routine is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to help reduce anxiety, tension and stress.
If you’re feeling the need to talk to someone about your feelings, don’t hesitate – do it! If there is one silver lining of the past two years, it’s the ability to use video applications (like Zoom) to communicate face-to-face over any distance. These technologies allow anyone, anywhere to easily access licensed therapists and counselors.
Companies like Talkspace and NOCD can connect you to a nationwide network of highly trained psychologists. Because their networks are so large, you have the ability to seek out the mental health professional that’s a perfect fit for your specific needs. And remember, if you or anyone you know has thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Therapy not your jam? Try writing out your feelings in a journal! Journaling can serve the same function as confiding in a friend. Getting all of your thoughts and feelings out on paper can alleviate the stress of keeping emotions bottled up and can help you find clarity and understanding when you feel overwhelmed. Writing letters that you don’t intend to send (also known as letter writing therapy) can serve the same purpose as journaling and can also provide a great sense of comfort and relief.
This is just a short list of ways to help improve your mental health. For more ideas, check out this Psychreg article and this article from The University of Michigan. We wish you the best this holiday season and we hope you have a very happy and healthy 2022!