December is a time of celebration! With winter festivals, holidays and parties occurring for many of us, there is always so much to do. This brings with it a lot of pressure and expectation, which can take its toll on your mental health and leave you feeling overwhelmed. The good thing about the end of the year, however, is that it is an end to an era; a time to start again. Call it a new year’s resolution, if you like, or think of this as another chance to set goals for yourself and start fresh. Make the new year your year of giving.
Consider this a give to yourself, to bring you to a more grounded place for helping others.
Yoga is a great way to tap into your inner self and connect to your mind and body. You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga, though you will find your flexibility increases with regular practice, as will your sense of awareness. As you become more aware of how your body is moving through space, you can become more attuned to how each part of your body feels. You will feel the four corners to your feet, as you stand and your balance will improve.
With this awareness comes a deeper connection to your body. You might even start to love your body, which may have previously been a challenging concept. Perhaps you will find new moments of calm in the mind, which might have been difficult to cultivate before.
Yoga is truly transformative, so try to make this a part of your daily routine. An ongoing practice will have you experience these benefits more quickly than the occasional session will bring. Find videos and tutorials on YouTube and similar platforms. Invite friends and family, to share the benefits with those you love.
A good tool for your mental health tool belt is the ability and want to help others. It needn’t cost a penny, and can transform your perspective, helping you to get out of negative thought patterns. We have found that helping others and giving back makes you happier! The only way to find out is to try giving to others, helping others and see how you feel.
Get in the habit of noticing when you are feeling blue and remind yourself of this mission. Think: who can I help right now? Or: who in my life is in need of a loving gesture?
Send your friend a drawing of something fun (it doesn’t need to be a work of art, just something funny or silly to make them smile!), bake something delicious for a neighbour, or write an uplifting note to a stranger and stick it to the nearest lamppost. Anything will do; a gesture that is extravagant and/or requires planning, or something easy and immediate. Make a list of potential gives you can do for others and revisit the list when you feel your mental health is in need of a boost.
On a day when your spirits are low, take some time to research a charity or nonprofit that speaks to something that you care about. The environment/animals/food-insecurity/homelessness/mental health and other challenges – there are thousands of worthy causes out there. Find one that resonates with you and discover ways you can give. If not financially, consider how you can volunteer your time. Start a fundraising event to raise money for the chosen charity; organize a run or walk with local sponsors, and share your chosen cause with others. Go Fund Me Campaigns are great ways to raise money through your social network and it takes only a click to donate.
Do yourself and those in your life a favour, by starting a daily gratitude journal this year. Try to pick something different each day. Whether a physical item, a feeling, or an event; become creative in acknowledging your gifts of the day. (Perhaps these gifts will inspire new ways that you can give to others…)
This practice helps us to appreciate all that we have and to accept the things we cannot change. When we transform our thinking this way, we can connect on a deeper level with those around us and live in the present moment. Notice when you feel a striving for something you do not have and take a look through your gratitude journal to remind yourself of all that you do have.
Let’s accept what we cannot change and take a break from worrying this New Year. Taking care of our mental health benefits not just ourselves, but also the people in our lives. Visit 365give for other ideas on how we can take care of others and the world around us. Be the change you want to see in the world by using some of these ideas, or implement your own.