The simple fact of the matter is that unless you’re in the right frame of mind with a positive attitude and mindset, reaching some of your goals and resolutions could be a frustrating experience.

As the New Year progresses, many of us have resolved to improve our physical health with exercise, diet, and maybe that new gym membership, but how many of us will consider taking time to enhance our mental health and wellbeing?

The truth is, sound mental health is a necessary component of a person’s overall general health, and there’s a lot to be said for the adage “mind over matter.”

How you think really can and does affect how you feel.

The World Health Organization has reported that the United States has the highest incidence of mental health diagnoses in the developed world.  As a global leader, that is undoubtedly an unsettling category to be cast.

And there have been numerous studies that verify the link between poor mental health to higher risks of serious illness such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

Essentially we’re talking about our cognitive wellbeing – how we feel, think, and behave – as opposed to how many miles we can run or how many pushups we can do.

Other ways to think about our mental health include realizing your own abilities, coping with the normal stresses of life, working productively and making a contribution to the community, and our ability to learn.

How well we form positive relationships with others, and express, manage and feel an array of positive and negative emotions also play into an evaluation of mental health.

For many of us, just getting from point A to point B during the day can be difficult – kids, business, family and financial issues. We can become weighed down with emotions and responsibilities that seem overwhelming and never-ending.

One key to success is making sure we’re adequately equipped to handle life’s challenges as we deal with them – or as they deal with us.

These tips won’t help get the kids under control, but they will offer you ways to cope and manage stressful situations, perform at your peak, and improve your overall health:

Lifestyle modifications for 2017:

1. Embrace  a healthy and balanced diet

Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function.  The Mediterranean diet or something similar is now considered one of the healthiest ways to feed your mind and body. It consists primarily of plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil and using herbs and spices to flavor foods.  Eating moderate amounts of fish and poultry and limiting intake of red meat to only a few times a month is also important.  Research has shown the Mediterranean diet is not only beneficial physically, but it produced better cognitive function and mental health.

2. Daily Exercise

Walking is inexpensive, low risk, and an accessible form of exercise.  It is a very powerful and underrated stress buster.  Outdoor walking alone or with a group can improve daily positive emotions and become a non-pharmacological approach to serious conditions like depression.  Green activities such as walking and gardening can improve your mood immensely.

3. Get your 8 hours of ZZ’s

Not getting enough sleep over a sustained period leaves one vulnerable to developing mental health problems.  Establish a routine of going to bed and getting up the same time every day.  Take a warm bath or read a book to wind down.  Switch off all technology to begin relaxing before bedtime.  Sleep in a cool, dark and quiet room.  Avoid a high intake of alcohol, caffeine and sugary foods in the evening.

4. Learn to manage stress

Mind-based meditation and yoga exercises are not only catalysts for toning core muscles and the mind but are known to help reduce stress and clear your thoughts to help you put things into perspective.  Stress is a daily part of life and adversity and disappointments happen to everyone.  Train your brain to rethink and respond appropriately and positively to your surroundings and environment.  As you develop coping skills and reason creatively, your emotional resilience and ability to pool resources will increase.

5. Take up a hobby, volunteer, and get out of the house

Do something you enjoy.  Whether it’s fishing, hiking, golfing, gardening, canoeing or just playing cards with other folks or family, taking up a weekly or monthly hobby that gets you socially active and outdoors will do wonders to improve your mood and mental health.  Most people are naturally social beings and feel the need for communal contact, which can significantly improve mental well being.

Our state of mind and mental well-being is primary to our overall health.  May you have an enriched mentally healthy year.