Happy Holidays – Staying mentally fit in the new year

With the new year comes new aspirations, goals, and dreams, and certainly stressors, and it is important to maintain adequate mental fitness as well as physical fitness in the new year.

Here are some tips to get you started:


Know your limits: Identify your stressors and try to avoid them by preparing a plan to problem-solve those situations you can control, and for those you do not have control over, accept them for what they are. It is important to set realistic goals, simplify your commitments, and organize your time around activities that you enjoy doing, and take the time to actually enjoy them.

Be present: Mindfulness is an act of paying attention to the present moment in a nonjudgmental way by focusing on physical sensations like breathing, eating, focusing on every little detail (especially in nature) when taking walks, etc. Mindfulness has been found to have a significant positive impact on the treatment of stress, anxiety, depression, and several other illnesses. Hence, take some time out of your day to enjoy the beauty around you or in you while practicing mindfulness. You can start small and gradually increase as you go.

Get enough sleep: The body needs about 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day to function optimally, and for many, this can prove impossible to achieve owing to busy schedules. Poor sleep affects the mood and can lead to anxiety and stress. Start by having a set bedtime and wake up time and slowly increase your number of hours of sleep with a weekly increment of 30 minutes till you reach your goal. Ensure your bedroom is sleep-friendly by keeping it dimly lit, quiet, and comfortable, and avoid caffeinated beverages in the evening.

Practice gratitude: The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many lives as many have lost their loved ones, homes, and/or jobs, but, no matter how tough life is, find something to be grateful for and get immersed in that feeling of gratitude. You can start by writing it down or saying it out loud to friends or family, and remember, nothing is too small to be grateful for.

Engage in healthy practices: Food has the power to heal and also affect our mental state. As such, it is important to make healthy choices daily. Wholesome foods that are minimally processed with preserved nutritional value are highly recommended for consumption. Please quit smoking if you do smoke, limit alcohol consumption, and introduce some exercise into your daily routine.

Stay connected and show some kindness: spend some time (while adhering to the COVID-19 safety guidelines) with some friends and family, and try not to isolate yourself. One good deed, a smile, a simple compliment, or a handwritten note of appreciation can go a long way, especially during the holiday season. Show some kindness today, it just might come back to you.

Dr Esther Dairo

General Practitioner

Should you have any symptoms or more tips on how to stay healthy, please speak to one of our Doctors on the app.