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Mental Health Matters in 2020

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Neon sign reading Breathe among leaves

Staying healthy at any time can be challenging. There are so many things that we must do each day—work, family responsibilities, chores, etc. It can be hard to find a balance in getting done what we need to and taking care of ourselves. 

We may be looking forward into this year thinking about our resolutions—or the ones we did not keep in 2019. It’s usually best to start small and stick to those changes until they become part of our lifestyle. It takes an average of 21 days to develop a habit and 90 days to make that habit a lifestyle change. Here are some ideas for how to kick-off your 2020 with a healthy start.

Get enough sleep

Sleep can often be one of the first things to go when we are busy and continuing to get enough sleep is so important to managing our stress and staying healthy. Consider developing a routine to help with sleep that includes no caffeine 8 hours before your bedtime, turning off screens an hour before bedtime, developing a “get ready for bed” ritual and avoiding night eating (including snacking). There are many other strategies which can easily be found through a Google search for "developing good sleep hygiene."

Eat balanced meals and get exercise

There were many yummy treats around the holidays and lots of gatherings which probably made it easy for you to eat a lot of things that aren’t the best choice. Try getting back on track by incorporating more vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and fruits into your diet. You are never too busy to eat—nullfuel is important for your brain and body to function. We think better, problem solve and respond better in emotional situations when we are properly fueled. Incorporate movement on a regular basis—go for a short walk, do some lunges, push-ups or crunches during commercial breaks, walk or jog in place for a few minutes if you don’t have time to go for a walk, etc. Movement helps us get our blood flowing, increases concentration and releases feel good hormones that help us manage stress.

Stick to routines

Routines can feel boring and it is easy to throw routines out the window by staying up late, sleeping in or indulging more than we normally would on the weekends. However, our brains are creatures of habit and when we set our routines aside, even for a few days, it is hard to get back into them. Keeping up with our routines also helps manage stress because our brain and our body know what to expect. What’s a routine? Anything you would normally do. If you go to bed and get up at a certain time, keep that same cycle. Don’t have a healthy routine? Consider starting with a set bedtime seven days a week. This will make Monday mornings much easier.

Manage Stress

All of the above things are helpful for managing stress—sticking to routines, getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals and getting exercise. We can also help manage our stress by practicing mindfulness—being present in the moment fully instead of thinking about the next thing due or thenull next party or family get together. Taking deep breaths—if your belly isn’t moving, you’re not fully filling your lungs. Making a list of three things you are grateful for or three things that went well can help your mind to focus more on the positive than the negative. Consider using essential oils in a diffuser or a roller ball applicator mixed with a carrier oil (olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, almond oil) and applying it to your temples or wrists. Some essential oils that can be helpful for stress are sweet orange oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil, or rosemary oil. The key is to pick something that helps you feel relaxed and calm even if that is not what the label says it should do. Take time to rest—it’s easy to get caught up in business of life and forget to slow down and just be.

We have recently introduced more behavioral health services into our primary care clinics. Learn more and book an appointment today