Starting the New Year with a clean slate is the perfect way to get your life back on track. But looking after your emotional and mental health is often forgotten about in the clutter of everything else going on.
Dr Mary Casey (Doctorate of Psychology), CEO of health and education organisation Casey Centre, says: “The reason we make resolutions in the first place is to be happier, more creative, more aware of our direction in life and improve our sense of wellbeing. Arguably the largest obstacles to these are negative emotional states. Negative emotions are hugely toxic to our health. It’s now commonly accepted that holding onto stress, resentment, anger and fear for years at a time can lead to myriad health problems, including high blood pressure, thyroid diseases, hair loss and heart disease. In fact, it has become accepted by health professionals that most diseases in some way have a stress-related component.
“It’s surprising, then, that more of us don’t focus on improving our state of mind. December and January are the perfect months for detoxing our emotions by reassessing our relationships and living decisions we make daily. This may require us to build our emotional and mental muscles, which becomes easier once you begin.”
Dr Mary Casey’s top seven New Year’s Resolutions for 2013:
1. Prioritise your happiness and health: “It’s important to decide your health and happiness as number one. As simple as it sounds, if you don’t have these, you are not in a position to contribute to others or yourself. Everything stems from here,” says Dr Casey.
2. Spend more time with the right people. “Rather than resolving to spend more time with everyone – which can be exhausting – spend time with people who are naturally positive and uplifting, and who are going in the direction you want to go in,” Dr Casey says. “You’ll find these people have an energising effect on you.”
3. Deal with toxic relationships: “You can identify the relationships by the way they make you feel”, says Dr Casey, “People who are controlling or overly emotional put everyone else in a negative state. Stand your ground, set your boundaries and make it clear to them what behaviour you won’t accept – even with family. You may need to disengage altogether from particularly toxic people. Your health will thank you for it.”
4. Reassess your happiness at work. This is must for those in negative work culture that’s leaving them feeling overworked, uncertain of their future, anxious or stressed. “It’s important to know that as an employee you can address the issue with your manager. If you know you can’t, it may be time to look for a healthier work environment,” Dr Casey says.
5. Review your daily routine: “It takes courage to admit there are decisions we ourselves make that deflate us emotionally – from accepting a job with a long work commute, to running around too much, to not giving ourselves enough ‘down’ time every day, to spending too much and putting ourselves in financial stress,” says Mary. “By resolving to develop a strategy to solve them, you can be in an entirely different place by the end of 2012. And you’ll be glad for it.”
6. Don’t let any negative emotions control you: “Negative emotions – however small – can overwhelm anything positive,” Dr Casey says. “Resolve to develop awareness of when you’re feeling upset or frustrated before it spoils your day. Examine your part in this. What can you do personally to make yourself feel better? Each time you begin to feel down, take a walk in the park or go out in the sun to help centre you. Nature and movement nurture positive emotions.”
7. Strengthen your relationships: “Deep and meaningful relationships, not just with your life partner but with all those close to you, are important for a fulfilling life. Make a list of all the factors you need for a meaningful relationship, identify what you do not want, and stick to your guns. You can also find deep fulfillment and connection in philanthropic or charitable work, so try getting involved in a community group, nursing home or the like, and volunteer some of your time,” Dr Casey says.
Dr Mary Casey (Doctorate of Psychology) is founder and CEO of Casey Centre, a leading integrated health and education service. She is also the author of How to Deal with Master Manipulators ($69.95, Casey Centre). Visit www.dealwithmanipulators.com.