The start of a new year is often when we take stock of our lives, contemplate the past 365 days, and make plans for the months ahead. It is a time for resolutions and fresh starts. Many people will resolve to spend more time with family, get in shape, or change jobs, which are all great goals – if they are achievable.
Many New Year’s resolutions fail because they are just not realistic. Maybe you would love to spend more time with the family, but your job means long hours away from home; you want to get in shape, but you have an injury that means you can’t do physical exercise. Changing jobs sounds easy, but maybe you don’t really know what you’d rather do, and you can’t afford to be out of work whilst you look.
To avoid the disappointment of failing to keep a New Year’s resolution that is simply not feasible (at least at this particular moment in time), try setting goals that you can reach, or break big ambitions down into manageable phases. And remember to reward yourself when you reach a milestone. New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be about perfection, just progress. Every step towards a goal, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.
Instead of making lofty plans and unobtainable lifestyle changes, try aiming for some small, sustainable improvements that can make a real difference in your day-to-day life. Impactful changes that can help or improve your mental health and well-being.
People use substances; and engage in compulsive or addictive behaviours (such as gambling or sex), for a variety of reasons. For some individuals the use of drugs, alcohol, prescription medicine or the participation in an addictive activity or behaviour is about wanting to change the way they feel. To make themselves feel better; to boost their confidence; or to dull loneliness and boredom.
Unfortunately, the use of a substance or behaviour, is just a temporary fix which can leave the person struggling with further complications, including poor health, depleted finances, and damaged relationships, and in some cases a problem with addiction or dependency.
In addition to the consequences, the use of substances or the compulsive participation in addictive behaviours, only complicates and exacerbates any underlying mental health condition, and frequently increases the symptoms of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
Do you feel that your use of substances, or your participation in a compulsive activity –
• has increased this year.
• is causing you, or those around you additional problems.
• you are using in higher quantities, or more frequently than you want.
• that once you start you can’t stop.
• that you are using to avoid feelings.
Then you may have a problem and you may want to look at cutting back or stopping completely.
This may not be as easy as it sounds, going sober is a big deal, especially if you have been drinking in excess, or using medication for a long period of time, so it might well be worth seeking some professional advice.
Getting some help could be as simple as asking your family, friends, or colleagues to do more; to take on some of the burden; around the house, at work, or with the children. We think we “should” be able to do everything on our own, that it is weak to need assistance. This is not true, one of the most courageous things you can do is to ask for help.
It could be that you need some professional help; if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, using substances such as alcohol, drugs, and prescription medication, or you are in a toxic or codependent relationship, you may need to ask for outside guidance. Do not be afraid or embarrassed, there is no shame in acknowledging you need assistance.
One of the most difficult things to do is admit that you may have a problem, whatever that may be, and ask for help. But the minute you do, things generally start to get better. Sometimes half the issue is admitting to yourself that there is a problem.
Speak to a trusted friend, a professional (doctor, therapist, counsellor), go to a 12-step meeting, or pick up the phone and call a helpline. Whichever you choose, there will be someone who can help you.
Two of the highest risk factors associated with declining mental health and well-being are isolation and loneliness. Humans are sociable creatures, born with an innate capacity to form connections. We need these ties to thrive and survive, interaction with other people helps regulate emotions, leads to better empathy and higher self-esteem, self-love, and self-worth.
Having a support system means you have a network of people that can provide you with practical or emotional aid. Whether it is someone who can pick the children up from school, when you are running late, or it is a friend that you can unload upon when life is tough. These support systems are your crutch, they will help you improve your overall health and well-being, reducing stress and anxiety.
Building a community around us, be it family members or friends, is vital to keeping ourselves grounded. Talking with others gives us a better outlook on negative and difficult situations, events, and feelings. It stops our internal voice from getting out of control, lends perspective when required and support when needed. It is also important for our self-worth to be available to help others when they are in need, giving us purpose and focus.
Learn to say no. You don’t have to do everything that is asked of you, and you don’t have to spend time with people who are toxic for you. This is especially true if it is something, or someone, that could be dangerous to your peace of mind, and if you are in addiction recovery, your sobriety.
If you decide it is not in your best interest, then say no. It will be difficult at first, but when you find you are no longer stuck in an uncomfortable or frustrating situation, then you will start to reap the rewards.
Constantly saying yes to things that you don’t really want to do, just harbours bad feelings. Meaning that further down the line you will end up with resentments, feel awkward or angry, and it can lead to arguments or worse. If you had just said no to start with, that could all have been avoided.
In tandem to saying no, is the setting of healthy boundaries. Think of these as a form of self-care. They are the limits you set which determine how people can treat you, how they can behave around you, and what they can expect from you. They are vital to good mental well-being, and how to avoid feeling used, stressed, overworked, frustrated and miserable.
There will always be people that we find draining, others that are frustrating, some that will take advantage, and others still that are undeniably rude or even aggressive. We can’t expect other people to change, but we can choose who we spend time with, or how much.
Work out what is best for your life, your mental health, and then draw a line and say I am not doing that, whatever “it” may be, and then stick to your decision.
Self-compassion has many benefits, including higher levels of optimism and happiness, and decreased anxiety and depression. People who regularly practice self-kindness are 25% less stressed, and 25% less likely to experience burnout.
Being kind to yourself comes in many forms. We are often much harder on ourselves than we would be to a friend in need. Pushing ourselves to do more, be better, ignoring painful or difficult emotions, or punishing ourselves with them. Beating ourselves up when things don’t go to plan. Not taking rest when we need it.
Self-care or self-love is all about being kind to ourselves. Treating ourselves how we would treat our loved ones. Identifying and acknowledging uncomfortable feelings. Taking time to rest, to exercise, to read – whatever we feel is good for us. Setting realistic expectations for ourselves, (and those around us).
It is also about the internal voice that we all have. For many of us the default setting for that voice is highly critical, judgemental, and very negative. This has a huge impact on how we view ourselves, and how we treat ourselves.
If we make an effort to talk more gently to ourselves, to treat ourselves with kindness and compassion; not constantly berating ourselves for mistakes and oversights, we will begin to feel more confident, happier, and less anxious and stressed.
Social media platforms are a great way to communicate with friends, share pictures and videos, celebrate life events, and keep up to date with what is happening in the world. However, one of the biggest downsides has got to be the catastrophic impact it can have on a person’s mental health.
As with other areas of the media (newspapers, magazines, television) the information being displayed on social media platforms can have a significant influence on an individual’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.
People are influenced daily by the pressure of social media to look and act a certain way, and if not careful, these efforts can turn into problems with mental health; issues such as eating disorders, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, depression, and anxiety.
In addition to this, the algorithms used by social media websites are designed to keep visitors logged on for as long and as much as possible. Unfortunately, it is not a very healthy way to spend our free time; and could in fact be doing us some serious harm.
Many hours are lost falling into a rabbit hole of endless scrolling, and studies have shown that the use of screens close to bedtime can have a negative impact on sleep, which is a vital necessity for both physical and mental good health.
Further reports have found that any use of social media can have a damaging influence on the way we feel, both about ourselves and the world we live in, increasing isolation and loneliness and causing us to make (often unfavourable) comparisons with others.
Comparing ourselves to others, particularly those on social media platforms where the narrative is carefully edited to make the poster look their best self, can cause anxiety, self-doubt, and a lack of confidence.
Maybe 2024 is the year we resolve to cut back on screen-time, on the time spent on social media sites, and instead get out in the real world and start building some true connections in the community.
Practicing gratitude can have a profound impact on your mood, outlook, and overall well-being. Think of those fleeting moments, where all is going well, and you experience an intense feeling of gratefulness and joy. Intentionally applying this practice into everyday life can encourage optimism, improve relationships, and ease mental health symptoms.
One of the simplest ways to do this, is to write a daily list of everything that you are thankful for, this could be family, food in the fridge, a warm bed – the list is endless and personal to everyone. Many people write it in a journal, meaning they are able to look back, remembering past joys; and recalling adversities they have managed to overcome.
Another easy method is to notice the thoughtfulness of others. Try taking a mental note of when you say thank you; to the person behind the counter in the shop, or the one who holds open the door; and then next time someone does something for you, really acknowledge, with gratitude, that small kindness they have shown you. These little things will start to add up.
Are you concerned about your drinking, drug taking, or addictive behaviour? Are you looking for help with a mental health condition?
Here at our residential drug, alcohol, and addiction rehab centre in Ibiza we can help. We offer bespoke inpatient treatments for a variety of psychological conditions including alcoholism, drug, and process addiction (food disorders, gambling, or codependency) as well as other mental health conditions such as trauma, anxiety, and depression.
One of the biggest obstacles when dealing with men and their health is getting them to ask for help. This is especially true with psychological and emotional conditions. Statements like “big boys don’t cry” and “toughen up” are still heard …
Burnout was previously deemed to be the misfortune of stressed-out corporate executives, worn-out movie stars and ageing celebrities. However, in recent times, and especially given the events of the last two years; with a global pandemic ravaging the world and …
Gambling during lockdown Amongst all the other restrictions caused by the covid-19 lockdown, the closure of high street betting shops and high stakes casinos didn’t rank highly in most people’s minds as a serious problem. In fact, many will have …