Healthy habits for the new year
January is often a time to plan, set goals and make resolutions, but after a challenging few years it’s hard to predict how 2022 will unfold.
We have all been impacted by COVID-19 and it can be scary to make plans when the future is unclear.
During uncertain times, it’s important to focus on what we can control, and to practice sustainable, healthy habits to allow us to move forward with our lives.
You can use the following tips and exercises as a framework to help you look after yourself in 2022. Rather than resolutions, see these as strategies which you can dip into and use in a way that works for you.
- Prioritise your mental health and reach out for support if you need it. COVID-19 has caused stress, grief and collective trauma across our societies. Remember that you’re not alone and there are lots of great online resources and organisations who can support you when things get tough.
- If making goals and resolutions isn’t helpful for you, don’t do it! Focus on where you are right now and be kind to yourself. If today is really hard, try some of these breathing, muscle relaxation or guided visualisation exercises from Beyond Blue.
- Look after your body. Make time for regular exercise (even a small amount is better than nothing, and can help if you’re having trouble falling asleep), practice good sleep hygiene and try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
- Practice gratitude by actively noticing things in your life that you appreciate. For example, ‘I am grateful for the birds outside’ or ‘I am grateful for the phone call I had with my friend.’ According to mental health experts, practicing gratitude can improve psychological health, wellbeing and resilience.
- Think about what brings you joy and what makes you feel fulfilled. Strive for a work-life balance and make time to do more of those ‘life-giving’ activities, where possible while still staying safe.
- Put structures in place to help you work/study productively from home. Check out our working from home tips and this headspace resource on studying from home.
- Connect with loved ones and community. During difficult times, connecting with others can bring great comfort. If you don’t know many people or aren’t close to your family, consider ways to meet new people, such as through online communities.
- Actively set boundaries and respectfully communicate your needs. It can be helpful to ‘check in’ with yourself regularly about how different situations make you feel. It’s okay to say ‘no’ to social engagements, tell people if you don’t have capacity to help with a task, and to set expectations about how you want to be treated.
- If setting goals and resolutions, keep things in perspective. The challenges we face today are not the same as those we faced a few years ago. Perhaps your values or the things you measure ‘success’ by have shifted since the pandemic started. Reflecting on what’s important to you, what makes you happy and how you might achieve these things may help you to feel more grounded as you move forward.
We’re committed to safely supporting Victorians throughout the pandemic. Access more free resources and find out how we can support you.
If you’re experiencing financial hardship, are impacted by family violence, or need additional mental health support, visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au/getting-help
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or danger, call emergency services on 000 (triple zero).
For 24/7 crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
This post does not constitute professional advice. It is for informational purposes only.