Focusing on a Healthier Outlook for The New Year
Last year will be remembered for many things, with the pandemic chief among them and still living large in our collective memories. And while the COVID-19 vaccine gives us reason for hope and a brighter year ahead, keeping a positive focus this year may feel like a daunting task.
We consulted with Isis Sneed, LMSW, a Behavioral Health Assessor at Texas Health Arlington Memorial, who offered these simple practices we all can follow to keep a healthier outlook and make 2021 a year of emotional wellness.
Practice having an attitude of gratitude
Sneed explains, “By simply reflecting on who or what in our lives we are grateful for, we can change our perspective and look at the much bigger picture of life. Practicing gratitude can also lead to you feeling more calm, joyful, and happy even in spite of negative or stressful circumstances.”
A recent article in Psychology Today1 outlines six ways to practice gratitude, including writing thank-you notes, following up with others, keeping a gratitude journal, paying it forward by giving back, slowing down to take notice, being mindful, and stopping comparisons to others.
Set aside time for things that bring you peace and joy
“Life can be super busy, so make time for your hobbies, whether that’s crocheting, painting, reading, cooking or hiking,” Sneed adds. “I think our hobbies are important aspects of who we are, and we shouldn’t overlook them, especially know.”
This article in Shutterfly includes a number of great ideas for starting a hobby during the pandemic. The piece cites a number of benefits, including stress relief, gaining new skills and developing patience. Hobbies also give us a means to step away from our day-to-day life while creating bonds with people important in our lives.
Practice affirmations for a healthier 2021
Negative and stressful thoughts, unfortunately, take up lots of space in our brains each day, so it’s crucial to practice a bit of self-care with affirmations like ‘I am enough’ or ‘my possibilities are endless.’ Sneed’s other favorite affirmations are ‘I will not worry about things I can’t control’ and ‘I have the strength to rise in the face of adversity.” She adds that affirmations work because of neuroplasticity, the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization.
Need help getting started with affirmations? Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul and a host of other motivational titles, says “daily affirmations are to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Here he shares his simple tips for creating your own daily affirmations.
When to Seek Help
Still, there may be times that pursuing professional help may be important to shifting to an attitude of positivity. Sneed says you don’t have to hit rock-bottom or be at your worst to seek help. She says to observe signs in your behavior that may signal it’s time to seek assistance.
“People assume seeking professional help is for those in severe situations, but anyone and everyone can receive and benefit from professional help,” Sneed states. “Similarly, changes in mood can be a big sign that you could benefit from additional support from a mental health professional. A mental health professional can help you in identifying treatment goals, learning healthy coping skills, and processing live events.”
Sneed suggests starting with a complimentary assessment offered by Texas Health Resources’ Behavioral Health team. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling (682) 626-8719. She says the free assessments are offered to help individuals identify what level of care is best, and to provide referrals, as needed. Texas Health Behavioral Resources are offered at 18 locations throughout North Texas.