Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation Mark Rowland commented:
“With 2019 set to be a year of significant transition and change for everyone, we are sharing advice on what people can do to prevent stress and manage change. The start of the year is a good time to set goals; by taking steps to look after our mental health, we can prevent problems from building up into serious issues.
“Often when change carries a perceived threat or negative consequence, it can release our ‘fight or flight’ response. The resulting stress hormones can cause an overwhelming feeling of not being able to cope. That is why we want people to know the practical ways they can manage change in 2019 as best they can.
“The New Year is also an opportunity accept ourselves for who we are and put our energy into making the world a better place - one person’s mental health at a time. By understanding how to look after our own mental health, we are in a better position to look out for others’ mental health too.”
Here are seven New Year’s tips to help manage your mental health in 2019:
- Show compassion: Seeking to understand and accepting that it’s okay for others to have different views is an important first step in managing mental health problems. Everyone has the right to respectfully express what they think and feel and to be respected in return. Sometimes it’s better to resist the urge to immediately respond in a state of agitation and wait a couple of hours to see whether we still think it is worth responding to. Without our mental health we have much less to give to any of the social or political causes we might be concerned about.
- Spring clean your apps: Turning off app notifications is a practical way of limiting the demands they place on our attention. News is now available 24hrs a day and so much exposure to uncertainty can be stressful, though it’s important to stay informed, be aware of how it is making you feel and limit yourself to how many times you check you phone. Look at the people or accounts you are following on social media – are any friends or accounts you follow causing you stress or negativity? Muting those accounts will help manage those stresses.
- Stay connected: There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you. If you are part of a community, club or if you are religious or spiritual - these networks can give you a way of staying connected to something bigger and provide consolation in times of difficulty.
- Look outwards: keep an eye out for your friends and family who may be struggling. Unpredictability and volatility are becoming the new normal. Now as much as at any time, we need to find ways of supporting each other and building our collective resilience. Looking after for someone else is good for your mental health as well.
- Take proactive steps to support good mental health: Many of the things that support good physical health support good mental health too. See our tips and free guides, and don’t be put off if some of the tips sound simple! Often the simplest things we can do, like exercise or spending time in nature, can give our mental health a big boost.
- Make time for something you really enjoy: find something that helps you change state. Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.
- Don’t be afraid to get help: it is better to act early if you feel rising levels of stress. There are a range of online resources and apps available plus effective psychological therapies through the NHS.