The new year is here, and most of us are likely to have made at least one resolution for 2016. But while the majority of our goals for the coming year will incorporate improvements in physical health - such as hitting the gym and losing weight - have you thought about how you could improve your mental health?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO): "Mental health is an integral part of health; indeed, there is no health without mental health."
But what is the definition of good mental health? WHO say it is a "state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."
In this Spotlight, we look at some ways in which you could improve your mental health and well-being, ready to take on whatever life throws at you in 2016.
Adopting a healthy diet
Most of us are aware that a healthy, balanced diet is beneficial for physical health. It can help with weight maintenance and protect against a range of illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Physical activity is important for all aspects of health, including mental well-being. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise.
Get more sleep
It is common knowledge that sleep problems can affect our mental well-being. A 2010 study by researchers from the George Institute on Global Health in Australia found that people who have less than 5 hours sleep a night may be at higher risk of mental illness.
All of us experience stress at some point. Whether a result of work, relationships or money problems, it is widely accepted that stress can take a toll on our mental health.
Get into paid or voluntary work, or take up a hobby
But although employment can cause stress, being unemployed may be even more detrimental to mental health.
Setting your goals for 2016: be realistic!
- Set your goals ahead of New Year's Day; do not wait until the last minute
- Talk to friends, family and work colleagues about your resolutions and tell them how they can help you stick to them
- Keep a weekly record of how far you have come; this can help you stay motivated
- When you achieve a goal, celebrate by treating yourself
- If you slip up - for example, you break your diet one day - treat it as a minor setback. You can always get back on track the following day
- "But New Year is an opportunity to think about the improvements you'd like to make and then take concrete steps to achieve them," they added. "Set realistic goals, develop an action plan and set it in motion."It will take time to get used to any changes you have made, but if you are finding it difficult, do not give up!