Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times/TNS
Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times/TNS

Make a resolution to relieve stress

When people make their New Year’s resolutions, most think of taking charge of their health in hopes of transforming their bodies.

While eating well and exercising regularly are always good goals to pursue, one that appears most difficult for many is to find ways to manage stress and improve mental health.

Stress causes a variety of health issues, especially with strenuous relationships. Stress can increase the risk for high blood pressure, weaken the immune system, cause headaches and stomachaches and lead to other issues such as lower self-esteem, depression and anxiety.

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Many shy away from taking steps to improve their mental health because what a healthy mind needs is not entirely known. Just as dietary needs vary, so do mental health needs.

However, psychologists agree overwhelmingly that overall wellness comes from the inside out, starting with a healthy mindset. So, people should start a mental health plan as if they were starting a new diet, with careful planning and objective goals. That way, they may start the new year on the right track and keep it going throughout the entire year.

There are many tools available to help make a mental health plan for the new year.

Different websites, such as The Huffington Post, have happiness challenges where readers can subscribe to receive emails every day for a month with tips on how to reach their happiness goals. Other activities that can be helpful and measurable include practicing gratitude and meditation. All these resources are helpful in creating better mental health.

However, some mental health problems are more deeply rooted than weight loss, stress or overdue assignments.

These problems may be a difficult relationship with a family member that seem unresolvable. But there are steps to resolve these relationships, too. A good strategy that many employ is to move on and accept what has happened in the past so that they can focus on the future. But first, they evaluate the relationship that is stressing them out.

It is important to decide if the relationship is worth keeping or should come to an end. If there are serious factors such as abuse, substance abuse or other dangerous behaviors involved, then it may be time to seek professional help.

Secondly, they try not to blame all stress on the problem individual and instead evaluate their objective role within the relationship. 

Thirdly, they set time to talk things out. Arranging a conversation and addressing the situation at hand and not attacking the other person are some helpful tips.

Another option some decide to take is to spend some time apart from the problem person in order to see if the stress dissipates. However, those who choose this option must let the other person know that they are taking a break, so that the latter will understand the absence of communication.

One very important final step in creating a mental health plan is to communicate it to family and friends. This creates a good support system that provides encouragement.Many say that having a strong support system helps people stick to their mental health goals and other resolutions.

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