We’re two weeks into the new year, and the Christmas and NYE festivities can seem like yesterday, and a long while ago, all at the same time. The sparkly decorations are gone, and work and school routines have returned.
If the January blues have started to settle in, fear not: we’ve rounded up a concise collection of simple, manageable tips that promise to boost your emotional wellbeing and nourish your mental health.
These are easy, quick ways to boost you up – now, or any time throughout the year. So read on, get inspired, then be kind to yourself by bookmarking the page so you can return to these good-for-you tips any time you need to.
Yes, mindfulness has been quite the buzzword in the last couple of years, but learning and practicing one or two simple meditation techniques really can benefit your emotional wellbeing and overall mindset.
No need to immerse yourself in a two-day silent retreat or try transcendental meditation from the get-go. The beauty of meditation is that even 60 seconds out of your day can boost your mood, and research shows some meditation programs may even help reduce stress, improve sleep and support people suffering anxiety and depression.
If meditation is entirely new to you, a beginner-friendly app such as Headspace is a great place to start, or try Insight Timer, a free app that offers a huge range of audio meditations. Choose the amount of time that suits you – whether that’s 60 seconds, 30 minutes, or an hour – then scroll through the range of topics to find meditations that help with sleep, confidence, relaxation, positivity and more.
Track Your Moods
A new study has found that using apps that focus on mental and emotional health can be of great benefit to our wellbeing. Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah surveyed almost 600 people who had recently used a range of diet, fitness or mental health apps, and found that 90 per cent of people experienced improvements in motivation, confidence and attitude towards their mental health and emotions.
“Our findings show that mental and emotional health focused apps have the ability to positively change behaviour,” said Benjamin Crookston, one of the health science researchers behind the study. “This is great news for people looking for inexpensive, easily accessible resources to help combat mental and emotional health illness and challenges.”
Great news indeed! To get started, try apps such as Moment Health. Initially launched to help women track their mental health through pregnancy and early parenthood, the user-friendly app’s easy-to-use emotions tracker is a great tool for anyone who’d like to diarise their moods and see what patterns emerge over time.
Move Your Body
A recent survey shows that 59 per cent of Irish people want to be more active in the new year, which makes exercise our nation’s top resolution.
Of course, not only does exercise and feeling fit have a positive impact on our physical health, it also helps boost our mood and give us a lovely dose of endorphins. Perhaps even better news is that you don’t have to reach anything near athlete status in order to reap the feel-good rewards of ‘runner’s high’.
Research shows that simply walking at a comfortable pace is enough to promote relaxation, and another study revealed that if you really want to walk your worries away, adding a simple meditation such as counting ‘one, two, one, two’ as you take each step may help shift your focus away from negative thoughts and concerns.
The HSE recommends adults aged 18-64 do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. If that seems like a lot, think about breaking down those 30 minutes into three 10-minute chunks – a stroll in the morning, a quick stride around the block at lunchtime and another short walk in the evening will see your half an hour of exercise for the day ticked off in no time.
Fill Your Plate with Good Food
A balanced diet is important for good physical and mental health. Food can play a huge part in how we feel, and certain foods can help release the right kinds of mood-boosting neurochemicals when we’re feeling anxious or stressed.
For a great mood-boosting snack, look to the fruit bowl. Bananas are a good source of tryptophan and vitamin B6, which help in the production of serotonin, a key ‘feelgood’ chemical. Avocados and blueberries are also both great choices that help support healthy brain function.
Other grocery items to add to your shopping list that are good for your body and may help you feel better too include nuts (the unsalted kind), oily fish, oats and other wholegrains, leafy greens, small amounts of dark chocolate, citrus fruits and green tea. And remember to keep dehydration at bay by regularly sipping water throughout the day.