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New Year, new you

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Author: Holly Hannigan, Posted: Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 09:00

January is a month of change, where many people decide to have a clear out, detox or get rid of bad habits through New Year’s resolutions.

There is the usual stop smoking, stop drinking alcohol for Dry January and dieting (usually after a lot of over-indulgence during December), and 12% of gym memberships are signed up in January alone. It really is a great time for people to feel motivated to make changes to their lives.

This January, instead of focusing on the negative, why not try beginning the year with a much more positive attitude and begin adding new healthy habits for your mind as well as your body?

Practice self care

We are often very self critical and think, and even say, negative statements everyday to ourselves. This is highlighted by these New Year’s resolutions. So this year why not start with practicing self care? Your mental health requires just as much looking after, if not more, than your body.

Scientists are learning that seemingly unrelated psychological and physical issues may actually be closely connected. Doctors once thought that the link between mental and physical health problems was purely behavioural, such as depressed people being less likely to take their medications.

Mental and physical health problems can be connected

We now know that high levels of cortisol are associated with depression and anxiety, and that they can contribute to an inflammatory state and to conditions like diabetes and heart disease. They also affect autoimmune conditions such as Psoriasis, which is commonly triggered by stress. It affects 1.8 million people in the UK and can impact on emotional as well as physical wellbeing.

People with mental health conditions are less likely to receive the physical healthcare they’re entitled to, and mental health service users are statistically less likely to receive routine checks (such as blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, etc.) that might detect symptoms of these physical health conditions earlier.

So what positive changes can you make now?

• A simple morning meditation is a great way to start the day and if you are new to meditation there are plenty of free apps or CDs you can buy.

• Positive affirmations such as ‘I am kind’, ‘I am brave’ or ‘I can be who I want to be’ are great to write down and stick around your mirror or on your bedside table to read aloud every day.

• Practice mindfulness, trying to focus on the here and now.

• Yoga and Pilates are brilliant for all ages, shapes and sizes to improve flexibility, strength and fitness, along with assisting with clarity of mind.

• Get outside in the fresh air and enjoy nature.

• Smile.

Small changes can make a big difference to your life in every way, so start today.

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