The start of a new year provides an opportunity to reset. We consider aspects of our lives that we want to improve and make plans or resolutions to move us in the right direction. The past two years have had a negative impact on many people’s mental wellbeing, so what plans can we undertake to achieve good mental health?

What can you Control?

A significant driver of poor mental health is feeling out of control. Uncertainty through the pandemic has clearly illustrated this. Targets set by managers and the demands of family life are other external factors that can cause us to feel overwhelmed and stressed. It is hard to feel that things can change when you have no control. This leads us to challenge energy into blame and resentment.

Mental health is a subject being discussed in this Human Resources article. It highlights that occupational wellbeing is dependent on both organisational culture and individuals taking personal responsibility. Employers can provide Mental Health Awareness training and resources, but employees also need to actively engage with thoughts and behaviours that build mental resilience.

To take charge of mental wellbeing, we need to focus on the things we can influence. Rather than grand resolutions, which are difficult to sustain, I’m talking about small changes that build our resilience and happiness.

5 Changes we can all Make to Improve our Mental Wellbeing

1. Spend more Time in the Company of Positive People

Firstly, think about the people you associate with. Shift the balance so you increase time spent with those who lift your spirits, bring a smile to your face and are there when you need them. Achieve this by reducing the time given to people who drain your energy and enthusiasm.

2. Enjoy Simple Pleasures

Think about the simple pleasures that you enjoy. Listening to music, baking a cake, a scenic walk, a bike ride or learning a new skill are a few examples. Allocate slots in your diary for these pursuits. It might be leaving for work 10min earlier, so you can sit in the car and listen to music before the day begins. You might set up a weekly lunchtime walking group to ensure you get away from your desk.

If you feel that there isn’t time, consider where you can cut some of the activities that fill your day. Most of us could cut the time we spend on social media, mindlessly browsing or watching Netflix.

3. Prioritise and Delegate

Filling time is easy, but we often waste time on tasks that are neither urgent nor important. Focus on the tasks that are genuine priorities. Look for ways to collaborate and share tasks or hand over responsibility to someone else. It might initially take a bit of time to put into practice, but the long-term benefits of delegating are worth it.

4. Treat your Body with Respect

Self-care is about giving your body what it needs to function effectively. An early night, a diet rich in nutrients, fresh air and exercise may be the last things on your mind, but they are exactly what you need. The more you refuel your body with these essentials, the better you will feel.

5. Undertake Acts of Kindness

Holding the door for someone ladened with bags isn’t outdated chivalry, it is kind and helpful. Saying hello to neighbours or complimenting a colleague on an achievement cost nothing and take less than a minute, but it can make a tangible difference.

You may feel frustrated by global events or how the country is run, factors we have limited control over, however, it is possible to improve the community you live in with simple acts of kindness. Volunteering or supporting a local cause is a way to take this to the next level.

Can Small Changes Improve Mental Health?

Research conducted by S Lyubomirsky and K Layous reveals that “simple, intentional changes in thoughts and behaviours can precipitate meaningful increases in happiness.”. We don’t need big goals and challenging resolutions to make a difference, small changes are easy to implement and put us into a more positive state of mind.

They also report that “happiness is not a consequence of success, but a cause of it”. That is, the better our mental health, the more confident and motivated we become. This improves our quality of life and enables us to make the most of opportunities.

So, rather than channelling energy into blaming Covid, the Government, your bosses, spouse or other factors that you can’t change, look to where you can take control. Put time and effort into small shifts which boost your mental wellbeing. We can all benefit from a happier new year.

 

For further information on Mindset’s workplace audits, training, workshops contact Ellice at info@mindsetmentalhealth.co.uk.