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Welcome to Way Out West your unofficial guide to living, working and studying in the west of the province

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Every year people around the world set themselves New Year resolutions. In reality, most of them tend to last a couple of weeks, or maybe a few months if you’re lucky or particularly dedicated and self-disciplined. Popular vows include upping our exercise routine, sticking to a new diet, or spending less money and putting more towards our savings. While these things may be doable for some people, for others the resolutions we set for ourselves are simply unrealistic from the outset. They may sound great in theory and even start off well, but ultimately they become too hard to keep up with. This can lead to sense of failure or the typical ‘’ll try it again next year’ routine.

To avoid this, it’s important to make New Year resolutions that are realistic, and with this in mind we’re looking at ten changes you can make to help look after your mental wellbeing in 2021.

Exercise More. While gyms and leisure centres may be closed, there are still many ways that you can increase your levels of exercise. Whether it is going for a walk/run each day or trying out some online home workouts. Engaging in some form of exercise each day, even if it is only for a short period of time, it is likely to make you feel better both physically and mentally.

Reduce Alcohol Intake. Alcohol when taken responsibly and in moderation is ok, but excessive drinking can be harmful for both your physical and mental wellbeing. Alcohol is a depressant and can have a negative impact on your mood. Reducing or cutting out your alcohol intake will have a range of benefits for you physically, mentally and financially. What’s not to love about that?

Improve Your Diet. Improving your diet doesn’t have to be an immediate overhaul or drastic change in every meal that you take. It is better to make gradual changes by introducing more nutrients such as vitamins and healthy fats that are sustainable changes to your diet. It is also important to note that you don’t have to place major restrictions on yourself. Progress can be made my making better informed and conscious choices when planning your meals.

Go To Bed Earlier. We’ve talked about this before. We know that when we are lacking in sleep we are not quite ourselves, with many of us having a heightened sense of anxiety and irritability when we are over tired. It is important to aim for between 7-9 hours of sleep each night and one way to increase your chances of reaching that target is to go to bed earlier. While this may not always be possible, introducing good sleep hygiene can help you achieve this. Good sleep hygiene can include putting away devices in the evening, avoiding caffeine or alcohol before bed or by setting yourself out a regular relaxing bed time routine that will prepare your body for sleep.

Practice Self-Care. This will be different for everyone – for some it means exercise, for others it’s Netflix and a cup of tea – but whatever self-care is for you, it’s important to make it a priority as part of your wellbeing.

Keep A Diary. Making a note of your thoughts and feelings on a daily or weekly basis is known to help reduce anxiety and stress. It can offer an outlet, allow you to clear you head, provide a perspective on things that are going on in your life, and allow you to process and respond to your emotions.

Be More Selfish. We’re not saying you should make everything about you, but you should make decisions that prioritise your own wellbeing over giving in to the pressures placed on you by others. Basically, remember that it’s ok to say no to things that don’t make you feel happy or comfortable.

Reduce Social Media time. It’s no surprise that we are spending more time than ever on social media. Of course, social media has a wide range of benefits and over this past year has enabled us to connect with friends and families throughout some difficult periods. However, we can sometimes get lost in the world of social media and we can start to make comparisons between our own lives and that of those we follow on social media. Setting yourself limits for how much time you spend on social media or deleting social media accounts that you don’t use can improve your wellbeing.

Be More Trusting. When feeling anxious or lonely, we can hide away and isolate ourselves further. If you experience a difficult period, try to be more trusting and know that people are there to support you. Speaking to friends and family when feeling anxious or lonely can make a huge difference.

Seek Help. Finally, if you are struggling with your mental health, remember that support is always available to you via the Inspire (0800 389 5362) and Lifeline (0800 808 8000) 24/7 Helplines. The student college counselling service is also available and appointments can be made via calling the Inspire Helpline number above or by contacting student services on your campus.

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