What a year it’s been.
If you’re overthinking everything and stressed beyond measure, you’re certainly not alone. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Say goodbye to 2017 ― and some of the negative emotions that came with it ― by adopting a few of these expert- and research-backed habits in the new year.
They certainly won’t solve everything, but they’ll help make you feel a little calmer and happier in the moment. Baby steps, right?
1. Take news breaks
Research shows that negative news can poorly affect your mental health. Simply put, it’s absolutely essential to take time away from the barrage of bad news stories. Experts recommend this to their patients, and do it themselves to keep their own stress under control. Here are some tips on how to take care of yourself during a chaotic news cycle.
2. Say ‘no’ more often
Make 2018 the year you admit to yourself that you can’t do it all ― and embrace it. Saying “yes” to every offer, even the ones you really don’t want to agree to, can have long-term consequences. Therapists say a people-pleasing habit can hurt your mental well-being. Here’s a guide on how to politely turn down invitations without feeling like a complete jerk.
3. Use social media to your advantage
Research shows that excessive social media use can be bad for your mental health, and it’s necessary to take a break from your newsfeed. But let’s be real: It’s impossible to expect to stay unplugged from those updates all the time.
Reframe the way you view posts on platforms like Facebook and Instagram so you can build a healthier relationship with them. Experts recommend unfollowing accounts that don’t bring you joy, subscribing to more positive content and reminding yourself that what you’re seeing in your feed only shows a small portion of someone’s life.
4. Indulge in a new show
Sometimes a mental escape from reality is just what you need to reset your brain.
Try watching something funny (studies show laughter really is the best medicine) whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. It can help curb your stress, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, previously told HuffPost.
5. Get active
There’s no substitute for exercise. Research shows that regular movement can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
Make an effort to incorporate physical activity into your daily life, whether it’s going for a brief walk or trying a new fitness class. Here’s a guide on exercises you can do even if you lack fitness skills.
6. Lend your time to a cause you care about
Therapists say more of their patients reported feeling helpless after the 2016 election, and the stress surrounding the political climate has only increased.
Experts recommend getting involved in charities or causes you care about in order to offset these negative emotions. By getting active, you’re taking control ― and that can help relieve anxiety.