By Kim Duke

NETA & AAFA Certified Trainer

I don’t know about you, but for me, 2017 was a stressful year.  I am not a fan of the “new normal” of political incorrectness or the strange way we have been forced to accept one person’s ridiculous rhetoric while condemning anyone else that speaks out against this nonsense.   How can we sit idle while many of our hard fought rights are becoming endangered?  Politics used to be something I could talk about with my clients— now it is taboo.

So instead of focusing our New Year’s resolutions on improving physical health, what if you focused on mental health this year?

While the culture at large often dismisses mental self-care, in part because of the stigma against those facing mental illness, emotional well-being should be a priority for everyone.

Mental health affects how you think, feel and act on a daily basis, as well as influences how you handle stress, make decisions and connect with others.

If you’re set on making a vow for improvement next year, add mental health to the top of your priority list.

Here are some easy ways to do that:

We can start the New Year by being more present in each and every day.  Let’s begin by putting down our phones and connecting more with people than technology.  Our culture is all about 24 hour information, the streaming of news that is fake and real at a rapid pace so that no one knows what to believe.  And, this does not apply to just adults either.  My 15- year-old son sat on his phone all day long on Christmas Day commenting on the number of presents he saw under all of his Snap chat friends stories!?  So, at the top of the list of ways to improve mental health:

1.  Stop comparing yourself to others.

2.  Appreciate what you have and enjoy time alone.

3.  Get outside.                                                                                           4.  Make fun a priority and laugh often.                                           

5.  Be kind, fair and unafraid to speak up.

6.  Confide in only trustworthy people and learn from your mistakes.

7.  Say “no” when you need to.

8.  Make rest a priority and cut yourself some slack.

Wake up each day knowing that you have a clean slate in front of you.  You are responsible for your own well being— mental, physical and spiritual.   

Make it a priority to be positive and look at the bright side of things.   

And, if you can go to bed each night knowing that you lifted someone up rather than judge them and take them down, then you’ve done your job as a human being who understands not only the meaning of integrity, but, the effect it can have on a fellow human being.