As the new year approaches, it’s natural to reflect on the past year and think about ways to improve in the coming months. For many people, improving their mental health is a top priority, and it’s a goal that can have far-reaching effects on every aspect of their lives. If you’re looking to create positive change in your mental health in the new year, here are some research-backed strategies to consider.

  1. Set specific, achievable goals

One key to creating lasting change is to focus on specific, achievable goals. Rather than simply resolving to “improve your mental health,” consider setting specific goals that you can work towards. For example, you might aim to reduce your anxiety levels by participating in relaxation techniques for 10 minutes each day, or you might set a goal to improve your sleep habits by going to bed at the same time each night.

According to research, setting specific, achievable goals can increase the likelihood of success. In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, participants who set specific goals were more likely to achieve them than those who set general goals (such as “exercise more” or “eat healthier”). By setting specific, achievable goals, you can create a roadmap for success and track your progress as you work towards your mental health goals.

  1. Seek support from loved ones

Improving your mental health isn’t something you have to do alone. In fact, research suggests that having a strong support system can be crucial to your success. A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that people who have supportive relationships are more likely to achieve their goals and experience positive outcomes.

To tap into the benefits of social support, consider reaching out to loved ones and asking for their help as you work towards your mental health goals. You might ask a friend to join you on a daily walk, or you might ask your spouse to help you plan healthy meals. Whatever form it takes, having the support of loved ones can help you stay motivated and on track as you work to improve your mental health.

  1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a technique that involves bringing your attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way. Research has shown that mindfulness practices can have a number of mental health benefits, including reducing stress, improving mood, and increasing self-awareness.

To practice mindfulness, you might try activities like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. You can also try incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine by paying attention to your senses, noticing your thoughts and emotions, and taking time to appreciate the present moment.

  1. Engage in physical activity

Physical activity isn’t just good for your body; it can also have a positive impact on your mental health. According to research, regular exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and it can also improve self-esteem and mood.

To get the mental health benefits of physical activity, aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. This might mean going for a walk, running, swimming, or participating in a group fitness class. You can also try incorporating physical activity into your daily routine by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a walk during your lunch break, or playing a sport with friends.

  1. Seek professional help

If you’re struggling with mental health issues, seeking professional help can be an important step towards recovery. Research has shown that treatments like therapy and medical supervision can be effective in helping people manage mental health conditions like anxiety, depression and stress.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider speaking with your primary care physician or reaching out to a mental health professional. They can help you understand your options and develop a treatment plan that meets your needs

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