As the year winds down and the holiday rush starts to slow, a new priority might fill your mind.

The new year.

Now is the time that most of us start to think in terms of the big picture, as opposed to the intricate details of holiday planning. Even if you’re not into making resolutions, you’re probably still thinking about what you’d like to see happen in the new year. No matter what your ultimate goals are for the coming year, a strong place to begin is making your mental health a priority. A healthy mental state is one of the best foundations for reaching your life goals.

Here’s how to do it.

Accept Feelings When You Experience Them

We’ve all done it. Felt an emotion that we didn’t express. Even worse, you might have felt emotions that you tried to suppress or deny altogether.

There are cultural standards, religious expectations and social norms that pressure you to act a certain way every day.

It’s not uncommon simply to bottle up feelings so that “the show can go on.”

But your mind gets cluttered and anxious when you fail to validate your emotions.

In the new year, be more aware of what you feel. Accept those emotions for what they are. You don’t have to understand why you’re feeling them, but it’s important to give your mind the chance to accept them and then process them.

Practice Living in the Present

Being more self-aware and living in the moment is a common theme nowadays.

It’s not just a fad to prevent life from passing you by.

It is a fulfilling way to live that alleviates anxiety and helps you to feel more in control of your life.

Living in the present isn’t exactly about getting caught up in the moment. It’s about being aware of the moment and focusing on the experience that moment has to offer.

Most people get stuck thinking of either the past or the future. Recalling your own history and planning for the future is not bad, by any means.

But it becomes an issue when you live in the past or the future more than you live in the present.

Practice being more self-aware of the moment you’re in now, and see the difference it makes on your state of mind.

Bump Up Your Self-Care Routine

The idea of a self-care routine has wide margins. There is no right or wrong way to be kind to yourself.

Only you know what your body needs for you to feel good.

A common misconception is that our mind and body are operating independently of each other. While they undoubtedly have different jobs, the connection between them is a powerful one.

For instance, going for a walk in the park or a hike in the mountains is more than steps on your Fitbit. There is a healing power in nature that positively influences your mind.

These seemingly insignificant self-care habits can do wonders for your mental health.

Only you can decide what self-care routine you need. But now is the time to establish that routine and even bump it up a notch.

Learn to Forgive Yourself and Others

With the new year comes the notion of new beginnings. Your past is never erased, but it also doesn’t have to define you.

Make this new year one where you are kind and compassionate towards yourself.

It’s far more common to be tough and hard on yourself for mistakes and perceived failures. However, forgiveness will get you closer to your mental health goals quicker than anything else.

Holding onto grudges towards yourself or others only weighs down your mind. It weakens your body, too.

Find a way to let it go. Forgive yourself more this year.

In choosing to forgive, you are also choosing to make your own mental health top of the list. You will be stronger, less anxious and more satisfied.

Take the first step…

If you are ready to make your mental health a priority, I would like to help. Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

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