New Year, New Me, New Habits to Maintain Better Mental Health
By Vanessa Gonzalez
A new year once again. A year filled with possibilities, hope, and a new chance to finally complete the goals you’ve been meaning to set for yourself year after year. However, it almost seems like New Year’s resolutions are promises meant to be broken. Only a small percentage of people complete their new year’s goals, with most giving up be the beginning of February.
So – why do resolutions seem so difficult to keep?
The word “new” can put a lot of pressure on people and create a daunting task that seems extremely out of reach. It’s not necessarily that your sense of willpower to blame. The problem can be that the goals we set from the beginning may be unrealistic, vague, and undefined. Just because the clock strikes 12 does not mean that you are automatically a brand-new person able to turn over a new leaf and live the life you’ve always wanted. Everything in life takes time and is a process – which isn’t easy. If you also have a mental illness, the failure to achieve your goals can cause more pain and stress.
However, that doesn’t mean we should give up on making goals. On the contrary, goals can be designed to be an impetus for growth and change so we may be successful in the new year, cultivate positivity, and improve our overall mental health and well-being.
Not all resolutions have to focus on losing weight, building your bank account, or looking better. Mental well-being can also be a part of your resolutions list.
Here are some mental health-related resolutions you may want to set for yourself this upcoming year.
- 1. I will learn to be mindful present in every moment of my life.
- 2. I will speak to myself with kindness and respect.
- 3. I will remind myself I am human – not perfect.
- 4. I won’t label myself as good or bad and accept myself as I am.
- 5. I will view life as a journey filled with adventures to become the person I wish to be
- 6. I will take time out of my day to relax and enjoy life
- 7. I will be mentally healthy this year and find help from a professional – I will break the stigma
How to Build Healthy Habits while Maintaining your Mental Health
1. Start Small
Dr. BJ Fog, a researcher from Stanford University, author of “Tiny Habits,” found that habits are best formed by starting small. Focusing too much on a huge goal or habit requires a lot of motivation that isn’t sustained very long. Instead, focusing on smaller, more attainable goals is more likely to be successfully achieved.
2. Be specific when defining your goal
Rather than planning on “being healthy,” “being happy,” or reading more books, let’s make these goals concrete. These are examples of very vague desires that have no real meaning. Instead, let’s define these goals as “Exercising at least 30 minutes per day”, “Journaling 15 minutes per day because it makes me feel happier”, or read “30 minutes every day before bed”. These goals are much more conceptualized and easier to complete
3. Track your progress and celebrate every victory
By monitoring your progress, you can give yourself a level of accountability and see just how far you have come in achieving your goal. Whether you write it down in a journal or use an app – the choice is yours. Studies have proven that health-related trackers have had a positive short-term impact on self-improvement and goals.
4. Give yourself grace
Despite all your efforts, it’s human nature to slip up and make mistakes. Don’t give up on yourself and throw in the towel because you couldn’t find time to meditate this morning because you woke up late, your kids weren’t ready for school, and you had no eggs to make breakfast. Life gets in the way. It’s what makes us – well – human.
Some New Year’s Resolutions that may be helpful for your overall mental health may be: to practice journaling, find a form of mindful movement you enjoy, take a step back from social media, and spend more time with your loved ones. The small changes we make every day can significantly impact ourselves, our positive relationships, and the world. Finding a new year’s resolution that makes you happy will positively boost your mental health and your chances of achieving the goal. So, what will your resolution be?
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