By Dr. David Woo - January 9, 2023
“New year, new me!” is a common refrain heard every January, and it’s true that this time of year offers the opportunity to start fresh and break the unhealthy patterns of the past. Resolutions pertaining to physical fitness, such as joining a gym or eating healthier, are certainly beneficial. But the start of a new year after the highly celebratory holiday season can be especially difficult for those with mental health issues (1). It’s important to look after our minds as well as our bodies; with that in mind, here are five suggestions on how to improve your psychological well-being to incorporate into your 2023 resolutions.
1. Moderate Drinking and Avoid Drug Use
Frequent holiday parties may have led you to drinking more than usual and even recreational drug use. It’s no secret that both of these activities are harmful to the body, but they can also negatively affect mental health. Alcohol is a depressant that can exacerbate low moods and anxiety, and the misuse of drugs can destabilize your well-being in a variety of ways.
Overusing these addictive substances can lead to an unhealthy dependency. There are proven benefits to giving up drugs and alcohol, and going sober or at least reducing consumption is an excellent way to start the New Year.
2. Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
Physical and mental wellness are more connected than we might think. As cliché as it may sound, the popular New Year’s resolutions of exercising more and eating well can result in positive psychological benefits. Start with small, achievable steps — even a short walk every day can have lasting results.
When we’re feeling stressed or low, it’s tempting to reach for junk food for comfort, but a healthy, vitamin-rich diet will be better for your mood in the long term. There is some research indicating that foods rich in folic acid (e.g. avocado, spinach, fresh fruit, whole grains) are effective at reducing stress and anxiety (2).
3. Keep an Active Social Life
The long nights, cold weather, and post-holiday financial situation can make January a lonely month for some as they stay indoors and isolate themselves. This can be detrimental to your mental health. Instead of staying in all month, try to find some activities to keep up your social life in the new year. It could be a book club, volunteer group, sporting activity, or anything else you enjoy that connects you to people with similar interests.
4. Make Time for Self-Care
We often spend the holidays neglecting ourselves to care for friends and family, so this is a good time to nurture your mental health by setting a routine based on your own needs.
Set aside some time for yourself each day for an activity you enjoy: meditation, reading, a hot bath, or a short walk — anything to help recharge your batteries and boost your mood.
5. A Social Media ‘Detox’
Social media can be a great way to stay connected to others, but it can also bring us down by highlighting the way our lives compare to curated, sanitized versions of others. Why not start the new year by deactivating your social media accounts, or downloading an app to your phone that limits your daily access? It could have a significant positive impact on your mental health that will last all year.
If you are struggling with your mental health at this time or any other, remember that personalized assistance from medical professionals is available.
To make an appointment with a licensed healthcare professional at Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry, contact us online or call (212) 731-2033.
- Sansone RA, Sansone LA. The Christmas effect on psychopathology. Innov Clin Neurosci. 2011 Dec;8(12):10-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257984/. Accessed December 21, 2022.
- Josiane Budni, Andréa Dias Zomkowski, Daiane Engel, Danúbia Bonfanti Santos, Alessandra Antunes dos Santos, Morgana Moretti, Samira S. Valvassori, Felipe Ornell, João Quevedo, Marcelo Farina, Ana Lúcia S. Rodrigues. Folic acid prevents depressive-like behavior and hippocampal antioxidant imbalance induced by restraint stress in mice, Experimental Neurology, Volume 240, 2013,112-121. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2012.10.024. Accessed December 21, 2022.