Mental health can be difficult to prioritize especially this year, with almost one in five people currently coping with a mental illness according to the National Mental Health Institute.
To help boost your mental health in 2022, we’ve collected advice from our Forbes Health Advisory Board members. Read on for their expert mental health recommendations heading into the new year.
Know You’re Not Alone
“There is still a lot of stigma about mental health concerns. People often don’t talk about how they are feeling and try to suppress their negative thoughts and emotions, but this only leads to ineffective and even harmful ways of coping, such as turning to alcohol, drugs, emotional eating or other unhealthy ways of dealing with symptoms,” says Judy Ho, Ph.D, a licensed clinical and forensic neuropsychologist in Manhattan Beach, California, associate professor at Pepperdine University and published author.
“Seek professional support if you need, and know that it is normal to have periods of difficulty and stress where you might need to enlist the help of someone who specializes in this area,” she says. “This past year and a half has been very difficult for many people, so know that you are not alone, and that these symptoms are treatable. You can return to a quality of life that you will be happy with.”
Move Toward Compassion
“Move away from labeling yourself and others, and move toward compassionate curiosity,” suggests Deborah Courtney, Ph.D, a licensed psychotherapist in New York City. “Instead of ‘I am depressed,’ move toward ‘I am in pain and it’s manifesting as depression.’ Instead of ‘he is an addict,’ move toward ‘he is in pain and it’s manifesting as addiction.’ Then get compassionately curious about the pain. This will help you meet yourself and others with less judgment and more nurturance. Give it a try and notice how the shift in focus feels.”Zocdoc helps you find and book top-rated doctors, on demand. Visit them in their offices, or video chat with them from home.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Lenore Cangeloso, a board-certified acupuncturist and herbal medicine practitioner in Oregon, notes the importance of being gentle with yourself. “Every day lends us a new opportunity for growth, health, and transformation—as we step forward into the New Year, this often seems even more predominant,” she says.
“Being gentle with yourself is important, especially if on a healing path. Never underestimate the power of sunshine, connection and movement. Listen to your body—it is wise and holds many keys to wellness.”
It’s time to adopt a new hashtag and “just be,” advises Belinda Gordon-Battle, a licensed clinical therapist and life consultant in Miami. “Welcome to 2022. #justBE patient with yourself. #justBE open to the process of learning and unlearning. #justBE prepared to fortify yourself with positive affirmations, self-awareness and an on-going gratitude list,” she says. “In 2022, try therapy to support your personal growth and development.”
Mental & Behavioral Health
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Find Wellness in Being Well-Rounded
“The essence of wellbeing isn’t defined by physical health, and it’s much more than absence of disease,” says Bojana Jankovic Weatherly, M.D., a double board-certified physician in internal and integrative medicine and fellow of the American College of Physicians.
“Wellbeing stems from a full integration of our mind and body with our environment. This means accepting change and uncertainty, working every day to nurture our mind-body and build resilience, growing and learning, contributing to our community and doing something that is purposeful,” she says. “There is no single way to achieve optimal health, but we know that the prerequisites are sleep, nutritious food, movement, stress channeling and belonging to a community.”
Find Joy Through Self-Care
For Linda Keilman, a gerontological nurse and Michigan State University College of Nursing faculty member, self-care is key. “Self-care is the best present we can give ourselves. As we near the end of 2021 and enter the season of hustle and bustle, we all need to take time every day to think about our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual selves.”
“Fifteen minutes a day to focus on self can re-energize the mind, body and spirit enough to safely socialize and engage with family and friends,” she adds. “Try it! You may be surprised by the results. Genuine and spontaneous humor and laughter are a strong foundation for getting the most out of life every day. Taking ourselves lightly and looking for the joy around us lightens the spirit and lessens our load. Smile—it’s a good kind of contagious!”
Give Yourself the Gift of Grace
“In 2022, center your health and wellness by giving yourself grace,” says Rufus Tony Spann, Ph.D, a nationally certified school psychologist, licensed professional counselor, yoga teacher and reiki master. “Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ To show up whole and share acts of kindness, forgiveness and compassion to humanity, we have to embody and extend these same healing and restoring properties to ourselves.”
Narrow Your Focus
“So many factors impact our mental health and well-being. It helps to narrow our focus to just one or two,” advises Lisa Henderson, a licensed professional counselor and mental health service provider in Nashville. “If I had to pick just one area of well-being to focus on for 2022, I’d pick making meaning. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in being busy, but that doesn’t mean that we’re being productive, having an impact or making progress.” she says
“When I feel overwhelmed, I’ll take a moment to step back, breathe deeply and look at all the things that are making me so busy,” she adds. “It usually turns out that most of what I’m doing is just that—busy work. On the other hand, when I feel at my best, despite how busy I am, when I take a step back and breathe deeply, I notice that it’s because what I’m doing matters. I’m contributing to someone or something that is important to me. The time I’m spending and the energy I’m giving doesn’t feel like busy work, it feels like a meaningful contribution. Make 2022 the year of meaning and banish busy work for the good of your health and wellbeing.”