This is the time of year I dread going to the gym.  Not because I can’t face the full-length mirror reflecting my seasonal indulgences back at me but because it’s so crowded, so full of well-intentioned people who’ve resolved to be more fit.  Given that physical activity is so essential to health and wellness, it is encouraging that this is one of the most popular of resolutions (and hopefully it will stick with many who get in there).  In the past, I’ve been part of the New Year rush on the community centre but this year I’m trying something different.  After recognizing an unnecessary build-up of stress leading up to Christmas (love the holiday – but I put too many expectations on myself for it), so this year I’ve resolved to work on mental wellness.

There are many on-line resources and tips for improving positive mental well-being – I thought this one from the Canadian Mental Health Association was simple but comprehensive.  I won’t list all of them but here are a few:

  • Learn ways to cope with negative thoughts – find an outlet for expressing yourself after a stressful day
  • Take time to just be where you are (un-plug the technology and give yourself a break from your internal task list – I’m going to try Qi Gong)
  • Find time for friends, family and community – social connections broaden our experiences, provide support and make us feel good about ourselves.
  • Be physically active  – there is a positive interconnection between physical and mental wellness
  • Enjoy hobbies
  • Set personal goals (like New Year resolutions!)
  • Share humour (this a great excuse for watching cheesy comedies)
  • Be kind to yourself

Another one not on this list but for which there is growing evidence of the benefits is: spending time in nature.

And you won’t be surprised to know that positive mental well-being while good in itself, is also good for your physical health.  There is a dynamic inter-relationship between chronic disease and the continuum of mental health (from illness to wellness).  Both good physical and mental health are enhanced by healthy lifestyle behaviours and are protective against ill health (e.g.: good physical health reduces risk of poor mental health and vice-versa).

So It may seem that I have complicated things for myself by replacing one simple resolution with a whole list but it doesn’t have to be complex – in 2013, I’ll be laughing with friends on trails throughout the beautiful Sunshine Coast.  What are you going to do to be healthy in 2013?

Rita Koutsodimos
Manager, Advocacy & Communications
January 2013

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