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A new year offers a fresh start and opportunity to develop positive life strategies. But even with the best of intentions, it can be difficult to find the motivation to maintain New Year’s resolutions, especially for those already managing mental health challenges.

Mental health concerns are on the rise following the pandemic, increased economic pressures and social issues. But there is hope. Small steps can support positive mental well-being and ensure a happier and healthier 2024.

  1. Set realistic expectations. Many resolutions fail early because people expect changes overnight. Mental health challenges take time and commitment to treat, just like any physical ailment. Start by focusing on one or two achievable steps, like journaling twice a week or taking regular walks. Mastering these small steps can motivate you to do more.
  2. Make exercise part of your routine. Research shows exercise can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. For individuals who are struggling with low energy and motivation, consider starting slow with a 5-minute daily walk. This is a good way to get your body moving and it’s easy to slowly increase the activity level as confidence builds.
  3. Use meditation to reduce stress. Studies suggest meditation can help with stress and anxiety.  Around 62% of adults don’t talk about their stress because they don’t want to burden others. If you’re struggling to talk about your stress, mindfulness meditation can be an easy strategy to add to your routine. There are several smart phone meditation apps to help you get started.
  4. Take social media breaks. Social media use has been linked to depression and anxiety. From comparison culture leading to lower self-esteem to the constant stream of negative news, social media may have a bigger effect on your daily mental health than you think. Try taking regular breaks, even if it’s just for a couple of days at a time.
  5. Ask for help. Mental health challenges increase the urge to isolate but this will only worsen these feelings in the long-term. Don’t be ashamed or feel guilty about asking for help. Talking about your feelings can be a great way to understand and address the root cause.

These small changes could lead to healthier coping mechanisms and long-term mental wellness in the new year. If you or someone you care about are struggling with their mental health, contact an Oceans hospital near you.

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