It’s that time of year again, where we say goodbye to the old year and hello to the new year, a year full of possibilities. To celebrate the start of a new year full of possibilities, let’s see how we can all glow up our mental health.
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What Is A Glow Up?
Originally, the term glow up was used to describe how someone who wasn’t considered attractive had become attractive (Urban Dictionary). Yeah, not the best origin story. This kind of glow up can be toxic (Cosmopolitan) and run counter to the body acceptance movement. Our worth isn’t the sum of our outward appearance.
Thankfully, the term got a reboot. Now a glow up can mean someone has had a mental, physical, or emotional transformation for the better (Urban Dictionary). With the inclusion of mental health, we can glow up by positively nurturing and transforming our mental wellbeing, because our personal growth is important (Page Flutter). As such, anyone that’s seeing improvements regarding their mental health treatment or substance dependency is also having a glow up.
What Makes A Glow Up Important?
Personal growth and development should be lifelong pursuits, no matter who you are. In our stressful world, taking time to improve ourselves as well as looking after ourselves and our needs are hugely important. According to What’s Good?, there are several benefits to having a glow up. These benefits are:
- Our emotional capacity and willingness to engage with our loved ones will increase.
- It’ll improve our levels of happiness and our quality of life.
- We become awareness of our own mental wellbeing and state of mind.
- It can improve our confidence.
- It helps us to understand ourselves and our surroundings.
- We can become better at making informed choices.
- We can see an improvement in our physical health, strength, and appearance, as we’re more likely to look after ourselves if we’re in a better place mentally.
- We can (re)learn to love ourselves.
How To Glow Up This New Year
Make yourself a priority
One thing I come across a lot when trying to help people improve their quality of life is how people don’t make themselves a priority. For some reason, making yourself a priority has become something to be ashamed of. But that couldn’t be further from the true.
You are a priority, and making your needs a priority also benefits those around you. You can be a better person, a better parent, and a better worker if you prioritise your own needs. Otherwise, you’ll just burn out. So glow up by starting to prioritising your own needs. Make time for some personal time.
Your wants and needs matter too.
It’s so easy to get lost in doomscrolling, as social media and other media platforms can generate more interest with negative news than they can with positive news. However, what’s good for businesses to generate an income isn’t always good for us. Instead of doomscrolling and being trapped in a hate filled echo chamber, why not try cheerscrolling?
Cheerscrolling is where you look for positive media to consume. It can be a positive news site like IdeaSpies or Positive News you visit to start your day with, or positive social media accounts. Whatever cheerscrolling you go with, the exposure to positivity can have a profound effect on our daily life and outlook.
Schedule time for self-care
No joke, scheduling self-care time is important, otherwise you’ll keep putting it off. Self-care is often the only thing that can turn a stressful day around. But because we keep our self-care as vague ideas of what we could do, we often won’t do them at all. We’ll make up excuses as to why, but ultimately, the real reason is simple. We’ve not scheduled self-care time.
By scheduling our self-care, we’re making a commitment to our wellbeing. Plus, a regular day and time to look after our wellbeing can turn a routine into a habit, a habit that’s good for us. It’s harder to discount our self-care when we know we’ve scheduled it in, which helps avoid our procrastination from winning out.
Our self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be anything from setting aside 15 minutes to meditate or do some breathing exercises, or even setting aside an hour or two to enjoy your hobby. Find something that works for you and start scheduling your self-care.
In fact, bring order to the chaos the Lagom way and start planning your weeks. The more of your week you plan out, the more likely those tasks will get done, even when you don’t have the motivation. This can be helped by creating to-do lists and stop doing lists.
No wellbeing advice, and by that extension, a glow up, would be complete without the mention of physical activity. This can be anything from enjoying a walk in nature (nature has its own mental wellbeing benefits as well), using a yoga app, or mixing up your fitness with the randomness of The Dice Man. It’s not about trying to transform your body into some sort of Greek god, but helping you to feel better and be healthier.
A simple way to add some physical activity to your day is to take the NEAT approach. NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis (What’s Good?), but don’t let the fancy name put you off. All you need to do to adopt the NEAT approach to exercise is to do things like taking the stairs instead of the lift (elevator) or getting off the bus a stop early and walking the rest of the way home. These are really simple ways to add a little extra exercise that won’t cause you to break a sweat, but it will help with your glow up.
How we eat will affect our wellbeing, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up the stuff you enjoy. This isn’t about some fancy new dieting fad, no, this is a Lagom approach to eating. Dieting can work in the short-term, but long-term they tend to fail us. If we want to see improvements that last, then it’s about finding a balance between eating well and eating for enjoyment.
Every wellbeing advice idea will tell you to get better sleep, and this article is no different. However, I will also acknowledge how hard it can be to tackle insomnia, as I’ve had sleep problems for as long as I can remember. Therapies like CBT-I (cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia) can be useful, as can processing trauma. I went from getting less than an hour of sleep a night to getting at least four hours, thanks to processing my trauma by keeping a journal next to my bed.
One simple thing that often gets overlooked is how much caffeine you consume and when your last drink containing caffeine is drank. You’d be surprised how many people drink a caffeinated drink late into the evening and then wonder why they can’t sleep.
Ironically, sometimes the best approach to improving your quality of sleep is to stop worrying about it. When we worry about our sleep, it can keep us from sleeping and even generate anxiety about not getting enough sleep. Don’t get me wrong, not getting enough sleep sucks. I’ve rarely had eights hours of sleep, but sometimes there’s not much that can be done about it.
For example, CBT-I and other sleep hygiene advice will tell you to create the perfect sleeping space, but like most people nowadays, we live in shared accommodation. That means our bedroom is often our only living space, making it our bedroom, living room, dining room, and because of covid, our office too. This makes a lot of the advice out there useless. That doesn’t mean you should stop trying to improve your sleep, but that you shouldn’t consume yourself with worry regarding your sleep, or it’ll never get better.
It might not seem like it, but a lot of our problems can come from a lack of hydration. In fact, we often confuse our bodies’ need for hydration with hunger, causing us to eat more than we otherwise would. And most importantly, this confusion doesn’t tack the underlying hydration problem.
A good way to track your water consumption could be to track it in a journal. But a more convenient way would be to track it in an app like Bearable. So get your hydration glow up on, because keeping hydrated is also good for our skin.
Human’s our a social species. That means we can get a lot of mental health benefits from socialising with others. That doesn’t mean you should socialise with everyone whenever the opportunity arises like an extrovert, but you should make sure to do some socialising. Find your Lagom balance between spending time with others and having some alone time.
Much like improving your sleep routine can help you glow up, so can establishing a morning routine. Our brains love a shortcut, so if you’re having trouble getting going in the morning, then a morning routine is for you. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Mine’s pretty simple, I get up, take my medication and vitamin D and zinc supplement, clean my teeth while looking through the TV guide, then it’s off to the bathroom to spit out the toothpaste, use the loo, then wash, and then sorting out breakfast. Job done.
Before I created this routine, I’d often skip washing and cleaning my teeth, and instead just move from my bed to my sofa and vegetate there all day. Depression is a real pain in the arse like that.
Tackle negative thoughts
I’ve lived with negative intrusive thoughts for as long as I can remember, caused by a childhood of racially motivated abuse. Negative intrusive thoughts are common, as are positive intrusive thoughts. Learning how to deal with those unwanted negative thoughts can really help you glow up.
For some people, that might mean challenging the thoughts, because 9.99999999/10 those thoughts are just a manifestation of your insecurities, and aren’t in any way true. Human are also prone to thinking errors, whereby we confuse our feelings for facts.
For me, I tackled my negative intrusive thoughts by ignoring them. That’s because they weren’t going to go away completely, as mine were born from the hateful stuff people told me. Don’t get me wrong, they were also lying, but these negative intrusive thoughts feel different when you have years of people saying the same thing to you. But, by not engaging with the thoughts, it meant I didn’t feed them and make them stronger. And that was enough for me.
Another way to help glow up and tackle unwanted negative intrusive thoughts is to embrace the use of positive affirmations. It’s a pretty simple technique, but a surprisingly affective one. All you need is to find the right phrase and repeat it to yourself, and that’ll help bring about positive changes and boost your self-esteem (Rana, 2018).
Living a life that has strong moral principles and being honest is another great way to glow up. However, that doesn’t mean you should go around being brutally honest with everyone, as there’s a time and a place for that. However, taking a constructive criticism approach can be beneficial. But mainly this is about living by a good set of moral principles.
For example, the moral principles I try to live by are to avoid harming others unnecessarily. For me, that means trying to recycle whenever I can, reducing waste where I can, and not helping businesses like Amazon to profit from their abysmal treatment of their employees. A lot of bloggers join Amazon‘s affiliate programme, but that’s not something I’d do.
It likely costs my blog income to not partner with Amazon, but my integrity is more important to me. One of the riches people to ever live, shouldn’t have employees pissing in bottles because they can’t take a toilet break. This makes me pro-union and pro-strikes, even the strikes currently going on around Christmas in the UK. The only way to tackle the cost of greed crisis is with unified action.
Speaking as someone with a lot of mental health issues and regular health issues, all of which are invisible, looking after your health is important. If you want to glow up, then factoring in how to look after your health and if you need to take medication is important. There is no shame in taking medication, no matter what your cave person friend might say. My quality of life depends massively on the medication I take.
If you have undiagnosed health symptoms and your GP isn’t listening to you, don’t give up. A lot of chronic conditions can take up to 10 years to be diagnosed, which sucks, but is true. Conditions like EDS and HSD (Ehler-Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder) and take up to 12 years to be diagnosed (The Ehlers-Danlos Society).
I’ve personally been on a long journey to try to identify the cause of my symptoms. But the journey has led to several hidden conditions being diagnosed (PPPD, reactive hypoglycaemia, inappropriate sinus tachycardia, and IBS), which improved my quality of like dramatically once treatment started. I just wish they could figure out the exercise intolerance issue, as it doesn’t line up with any of my diagnosed conditions. This is still under investigation, so hopefully I’ll get an answer soon.
So don’t give up, your health is important.
Consider adding vitamin D supplement to your morning routine, especially in the colder months, as that can help with managing seasonally low moods. If you live in a country that gets cold in winter and you have dark skin, then you should definitely look into talking vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is common among those with dark skin in cold countries.
Find your purpose
As individuals, we can often feel like we have no purpose, especially if we’re struggling with depression and other mental health issues. We’re overworked in jobs we mainly do to keep a roof over our heads, and have little to no personal and social time to enjoy. Because of how our work culture is, we can find ourselves feeling a lack of purpose.
If you want to make this glow up count, then try to find what will give you a sense of purpose. For some people that might be volunteering, donating, having a family, enjoying a hobby, or changing your job. No one can really tell you what your purpose is, so you really have to find it for yourself. That means it doesn’t matter if your sense of purpose is the same as anyone else’s. It only matters that it’s your sense of purpose.
Boundaries are always important. It’s the difference between protecting your wellbeing and people using you as a people-pleasing doormat. I’ve been there. Get out your journal and work out what boundaries you need with which people in your life. This can be a useful step before considering removing people from your life. People may change if you make them aware of how they’re hurting you. And if they don’t change, at least you gave them a chance.
Remove toxic people
There’s nothing worse for our wellbeing than having toxic people in our lives. Instead, glow up by nurturing good relationships and cutting out the ones that are causing you harm. Although I can’t cut my mum out of my life completely, my interactions with her have been cut down to the bare minimum. I think I’ve only seen my mum in person about two or three times in the last 10 or more years. That’s because she can turn a good mood into a depressive one with a single phone call.
Journaling is a go to glow up and self-care activity for a reason. It helped me process my childhood trauma and helped me to get a better night’s sleep than I was at the time. Journaling is also great for a lot of things. There are truck loads of journal prompts out there that can really help you glow up your mental wellbeing. It’s also a great way to engage in some self-reflection, helping you to improve yourself in general.
Speaking of journaling, a gratitude journal is a common practice that can help you with your glow up. Gratitude is a great way to develop a more positive mindset, and is strongly advocated for in positive psychology. Not long ago, I tapped into my gratitude by writing a gratitude letter. In that letter, I wrote to the one person who stood up for me during my years of racial abuse growing up.
Although it doesn’t seem like it, it can be hard for people to say no. Especially for those of us with people-pleasing tendencies, which I know from personal experience. If you want to have a glow up that’s going to last, then you need to be able to say no when you want to say no. Otherwise you’ll find yourself doing stuff you don’t want to do or don’t have the time or energy to do, leaving you feeling overwhelmed.
Green spaces have a wonderful effect on our wellbeing. A growing body of empirical evidence has highlighted the value of nature for our mental health and overall wellbeing (Bratman et al., 2019). So why not make nature and visiting green spaces part of your glow up?
We all need something to do that isn’t work or chore related that we can sink our teeth into. This is where hobbies come in. Hobbies are a great way to pleasantly distract ourselves while enjoying a pastime. They should be included in all self-care routines, and your glow up.
Know your worth
A lot of the time people are struggling is because they’ve undervalued who they are, which leads to us not seeing ourselves as a priority. If you want to have a glow up this new year, then you need to know your own worth. Work on your self-esteem, acknowledge the difference you make, don’t undervalue your work, and work on your integrity.
Nothing can crush your mental health, like dealing with debt. There are a lot of government backed sites and programmes that can help you manage your debt. There are also money saving sites that can help as well. You can even earn a little back on the things you buy using services like TopCashBack. Staying on top of your financial situation is the best way to live a less stressful life this new year.
If you click my TopCashBack link and decided to sign up. I’ll earn a £25 referral bonus and you’ll get a £10 sign up bonus. Win-win.
Never stop learning
Bettering ourselves should be a lifelong mission, whether you read a book, watch a documentary, listen to a podcast, or learn something new, like a skill. A true glow up should always factor in your own personal development, even if it’s just learning something new that’s fun.
One thing we all forget to do is celebrate our achievements. You can do this by tracking your achievements in your journal or you can create an achievements board. No glow up should be without an acknowledgement of your achievements.
SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) are designed to make your goals more achievable and to avoid setting yourself up to fail. So glow up by turning your goals into SMART goals.
Limiting beliefs are false beliefs that can stop us from pursuing and achieving our goals and desires. This can include allowing our thinking errors to go unchecked, as well as our core beliefs. If you have something you want to do, but aren’t doing it because you’re telling yourself you can’t do it or you’re not good enough, then you’re self-sabotaging yourself with your limiting beliefs. Time to ignore these limiting beliefs and embrace your glow up.
Set realistic expectations
One thing I’ve learnt recently is how damaging our expectations can be. This can be most destructive in relationships when you set too higher expectations on your partner(s). If you want to keep your wellbeing at a healthy level, then you’ll want to look at your expectations and ask yourself, are my expectations realistic or fair?
Glow up others
What’s almost as good as working on your own glow up? Building up people around you. So start celebrating other people’s achievements, because their achievements don’t diminish yours or who you are. Glow up other people by being their hype person. If everyone did this, the world would be a lot kinder.
Be your own best friend
If you want to have a successful glow up, then you need to make sure you’re treating yourself the same way you’d treat your own best friend. So ask yourself, how am I talking to myself right now? If you’re engaging in negative self talk, then it’s time to start taking those lying thoughts to task. Get out your journal and start analysing these negative thoughts, and you’ll soon see them for the lies they are by looking at them objectively.
The Swedes have a lot right about how to handle our mental wellbeing, with Lagom being something I covered recently in an article. One way we can feel better in our own homes, where we spend a sizeable amount of our time, is to declutter. I know decluttering and tidying isn’t fun and can be time consuming, but it can make us feel a lot better mentally to have our mess dealt with. Getting rid of stuff you don’t need can also make you a few quid on resale sites or can make for good donations to charity shops.
Communication is key to a lot of our problems as a social animal. Talk to people who’ve experienced similar things to you, talk to a therapist, talk to a loved one, or talk to an online friend. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Improve your body posture
I really need to work on my posture, so I know that maintaining a good posture can be difficult, but it’s also a huge part of our physical health journey. According to What’s Good?, sitting and walking with good posture helps keep our bones stay well-aligned, reducing muscle and joint pains. Good posture is also good for positively influencing your self-esteem.
As I say a lot, no one wins when they make comparisons. So if this is something you find yourself doing, then work on overcoming this habit so your glow up can have a better effect on your quality of life. Unfollow people and brands that cause you to make comparisons, and switch to cheerscrolling ones instead.
I’ve created a list 36 ways to help you glow up this new year. You don’t have to do all of them, but there should be enough options for you to pick the ones that you think will work for you. Whatever ones you decide to try out, I hope you’ll drop by and let me know how they went. Happy holidays!
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with having a glow up in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
Bratman, G. N., Anderson, C. B., Berman, M. G., Cochran, B., de Vries, S., Flanders, J., Folke, C., Frumkin, H., Gross, J. J., Hartig, T., Kahn Jr., P. H., Kuo, M., Lawler, J. J., Levin, P. S., Lindahl, T., Meyer-Lindenberg, A., Mitchell, R., Ouyang, Z., Roe, J., Scarlett, L., Smith, J. R., van den Bosch, M., Wheeler, B. W., White, M. P., Zheng, H., & Daily, G. C. (2019). Nature and mental health: An ecosystem service perspective. Science Advances, 5(7). Retrieved from https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/7/eaax0903 and https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/advances/5/7/eaax0903.full.pdf.
Rana, M. (2018). Positive Affirmations and its Benefits on Psychological Well-Being. EDU WORLD(9), 2, 5-11. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ashok-Acharya-2/publication/348805443_EDU_WORLD_VOL_IXNO2/links/60111b89299bf1b33e2904f8/EDU-WORLD-VOL-IX-NO2.pdf#page=20.