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Prioritise your mental health and happiness in 2018

A more fulfilling and happy year starts with a healthy mind. Here are some tips to keep your heart and head functioning optimally.

Good intentions flood the first months of the year, and many New Year’s resolutions include eating healthier, setting new fitness goals and becoming more organised. It’s important to include your emotional health on that to-do list as well.

The World Health Organization defines mental health as ‘a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’ It’s important to realise that it isn’t about mental health illnesses but each individual’s overall wellbeing. Think about the following strategies as you set mental health goals for the year ahead. 

The body-mind connection

Healthy bodies equal healthy minds. Research supports the link between physiological and psychological health. Some ways to keep your mind sharp are keeping fit, getting enough sleep and following a balanced diet that supports brain function. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume and cut out smoking. 

Accept all that you are

Psychology Today defines self-acceptance as being able to embrace all facets of yourself – not only the positive but also the areas where you fall short and need a little help. It's crucial for your happiness and wellbeing to look at yourself free of judgment and to see yourself as valuable to the world. When you reach this place, you become less concerned with others’ opinions and criticisms. 

Live in the now

The Power of Now author Eckhart Tolle makes a strong case for seeing the value in this moment instead of allowing your past to define you or worrying too much about your future. Some strategies he recommends are slowing down, avoiding multitasking and spending time in nature. As US media mogul Oprah Winfrey says: ‘Doing your best in this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.’

Build meaningful relationships

We live in a time when eye contact has been replaced with ‘iContact’. As a result, many people feel disconnected and distracted. Make this the year you reach out to others. Spend more face-to-face time with loved ones, volunteer at a charity, engage with colleagues or join an activity club.

Get help if you need it

There’s no denying that the social stigma of mental illness prevents many people from sharing their concerns with others. Many don't even want to admit they have a problem or that they need to talk. Silence is often more destructive than speaking out. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and anxiety can start to hinder your functioning at home or at work. If this happens, it may be worth a consultation with a professional.

Find out more about mental health by contacting one of Life Healthcare’s 9 dedicated private psychiatric services in South Africa.