Substance abuse program coordinator, Cloud Peak Counseling Center 

Don't forget mental health in your new year start


January 27, 2022

I know most people look forward to a new year. A new year can bring a fresh start and new beginnings. It’s usually a time of reflection on the past year and accomplishments made, and to review areas needing improvement and to set new goals.

Many people start this process by making resolutions. Resolutions to go to the gym, to lose weight, to spend more time with family, to look for a new job, to eat healthier, to read more books, etc. I think an area that many forget to explore when setting new resolutions, is mental health. So how would one go about improving psychological wellbeing and making it a goal?

Here are a few ideas:

1. Practice self-care. Practicing self-care is extremely important. It’s so easy to get caught up in focusing on the needs of other people, we often tend to forget our own needs. Self-care should not be something we resort to when we are so exhausted we need some reprieve from the pressures around us. Taking even just a small amount of time for oneself can be greatly beneficial to psychological health. Plan time for yourself to enjoy a hot bath, read a magazine, that you look forward to.

2. Look after yourself physically, so you feel better mentally. Your physical health and your mental wellbeing are linked. Try to exercise regularly as this boosts endorphins in the brain, which ultimately improve your mood and sense of wellbeing. Even just taking a short walk can improve your mood and result in feeling better throughout the day. Also, make a conscious effort to eat healthy. A healthy diet that’s full of vitamins and nutrients can have positive effects on your mental wellbeing. The right foods can not only improve your mood, but help to lower stress and anxiety.

3. Get plenty of sleep. People live busy lives and getting the right amount of sleep at night can be a challenge. The act of sleeping allows us to recuperate both physically and mentally, resulting in more alertness during the day and a positive mood the next day. Try to develop a schedule of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day; avoid napping during the day so you can sleep at night; limit caffeine, sugar, and alcohol before bed as these substances can make you feel more anxious and prevent you from getting to sleep; and avoid electronic devices such as your cell phone, television, computers, etc. within 30-60 minutes before bedtime to avoid over stimulating your brain, which can result in staying awake.

4. Don’t isolate. Dark nights and poor weather can sometimes result in just wanting to stay inside. However, staying inside can have a negative impact on mental health. Set a goal to stay connected to people. Spend time with the people that you care about, as well as, challenge yourself to meet new people. Find new friends, maybe learn a new hobby, or possibly go somewhere you’ve never been.

5. Find help. If you find that you are struggling with your mental health, seek help. It’s important to recognize that support and help are available. Cloud Peak Counseling Center has a free walk-in clinic every Monday and Wednesday from 1-4 p.m. If you need some help setting some positive goals for your mental health this year, please reach out and we can help you get started on your path to improving your psychological wellbeing.


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