Boost Your Mental Health in 2016

January 3rd 2016

Taylor Bell

It's a new year so that means it's time to set some resolutions. But instead of focusing on getting that new gym membership or learning a new trade, here are some resolutions for your mental health.

Related: How You Should Talk About Mental Health

1. Find a therapist.

Although there is often a stigma surrounding seeing a psychologist or therapist this is one the best ways to build up mental health. Talking to a therapist can prove very beneficial regardless of your mental health status or condition.

"Therapy can be an interpersonal laboratory," Dr. David Spiegel, M.D., associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University Spiegel told The Huffington Post. "It's a way of working with cognition, emotion and interpersonal relationships in a way that helps you manage your emotions and learn to see it in a different perspective."

Of the 42.5 million Americans suffering from a mental health disorder, 40 million suffer from anxiety. But despite the fact that anxiety disorders are highly treatable only one-third of those suffering seek out treatment, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Related: Here's How to Deal With Stigma Surrounding Antidepressants

2. Surround yourself with people.

When you isolate yourself it's easy to think that you are the only one suffering, which can cause a lot of stress and make you feel bad about yourself. But when you open yourself up to others and spend time with different people, often you find that other people share the same fears and concerns that you have.

At the same time, surrounding yourself with positive people can help alleviate depression. Simply put, happiness and positivity are very contagious. In fact, over the course of a year a person suffering from depression can "double their chances of recovering if they have a happy friendship group," Metro reports.

Related: The Reasons Why People Who Take Improv Are Happier

3. Make time to exercise.

In this case, a gym membership actually might serve you well. The Huffington Post reported that a study published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology found that people who are more physically active report more general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm compared to the people who were less physically active. This is because exercising causes the body to release endorphins, a "feel-good" chemical that helps fight pain and induces pleasure. It is the same chemical released during other pleasurable experiences like eating and sex.

4. Adopt some positive affirmations.

Often what can accompany depression is a cycle of hopelessness and fatalistic thoughts. But instead of wallowing in negativity, train your mind to adopt positive affirmations. Here are some positive affirmations for those suffering from depression suggested by Psych Central:

  • You are valued even when you’re not productive.
  • You are loved — despite your sadness.
  • Your discomfort won’t last forever.
  • You are appreciated even when you can’t contribute much.
  • You are separate from your depression.

5. Step out of your comfort zone.

This seems like a counterproductive thing to do if you suffer from anxiety. But, actually stepping into the unknown is part of helping reduce anxiety. By avoiding uncomfortable situations you are only reinforcing the fear and discomfort you feel. In addition, one study found that certain levels of anxiety can help boost human performance.

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