January 2024 New Year, Embracing A Mindful New Year
Happy New Year! As we begin 2024, I am making myself accountable by sharing that I am committed to prioritizing my own mental well-being. This means cultivating healthy habits that promote a positive and resilient mind.
It’s more fun and also leads to more success when you join with others to create new routines and goals, so in the spirit of togetherness, would you consider joining me? Some simple yet effective practices I plan to incorporate and/or continue in my own daily routine include the following:
- Ensure you get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Adequate sleep is fundamental to mental health, promoting cognitive function, emotional well-being, and overall resilience. Check out this study for evidence of just how important sleep is to your mental well being.
- Start your day with intention. Consider incorporating mindfulness practices to set a positive tone for the day ahead. For me, this means Transcendental Meditation, but it can be whatever resonates most for you - box breathing, guided meditation using an app like the UCLA meditation app, or guided breathwork like the Othership app offers.
- Physical activity is not just beneficial for the body but also for the mind. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week to boost mood and reduce stress. Variety can keep things fresh, which means hiking, yoga, and power walking for me. What sort of exercise do you like?
- Fuel your body and mind with a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. The 5 foods I aim for most in my own diet include berries (high in antioxidants), dark leafy greens like broccoli and kale, (high in vitamins C & K, fiber, beta carotene, iron, and calcium), nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds (high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats), eggs, including the yolk (high in protein, including all of the essential amino acids our bodies need), and whole grains like quinoa and brown rice (high in fiber and other nutrients like magnesium and manganese). This study highlights the direct impact of nutrition on mental health, correlating the very real relationship between psychiatry and gut health, aka the gut-brain axis.
- We spent an entire newsletter on this a few months ago, but it’s important to name it again. It’s so easy to fall back into poor habits, especially when it comes to screen overload. Take breaks from screens and social media by setting a timer when you start perusing, which helps limit the amount of time you spend on screens. It also helps to set aside designated times for social media and to prioritize face-to-face interactions for more genuine connections. This study found that limiting social media use to 30 minutes a day lowered depression, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness among college students.
- Start a gratitude journal to reflect on the positive aspects of your life. Focusing on gratitude can shift your perspective and improve overall mental well-being. I like to look at my gratitude list each night before bedtime, reminding me of all the precious things in my life right before I drift off to sleep.
Connect with Nature:
- Spend time outdoors and connect with nature. Whether it's a walk in the park, a hike, or simply enjoying your morning coffee/tea outside, nature has a profound impact on mental health. Research shows that exposure to nature can lower depression and increase cognition.
- Cultivate and strengthen your social connections. Whether through family, friends, or community groups, having a strong support system is crucial for mental resilience. The longest study on human happiness, done by Harvard beginning in 1938, found that nurturing good relationships is the most important element for lifelong happiness and health.
Learn to Say No:
- Set boundaries and learn to say no when necessary. Prioritize your mental health by avoiding unnecessary stress and commitments that may overwhelm you.
I recommend trying to implement one of these new habits at a time. Please reach out if you have any questions or would like to schedule a free consultation to talk about a plan for self-care and prioritizing your mental health in 2024!
My passion is to help you live your healthiest and most harmonious life, but in a way that’s realistic and practical for you as a unique individual on this planet. My philosophy is all about “balance,” never a diet since a diet is not sustainable for life, aka Kill The Diet.