Most people tend to make New Year’s resolutions around their physical health, such as resolving to start dieting or exercising. However, we tend to overlook New Year’s resolutions that involve our mental health. Our mental health is central to every part of our lives, and we’re probably worse at taking care of that than we are of our physical health, simply because we don’t always think of taking care of ourselves that way. The following are five mental health goals to incorporate into the new year that will help you take care of your mental wellness and happiness.
Setting boundaries is necessary for both yourself and others around you. Boundaries set the tone for how you treat yourself, and how you let others treat you. For instance, if you ask people not to call you after a certain time, don’t pick up the phone if they disregard that. If you need to leave at a certain time to make it to the gym, make sure you leave on time no matter what. Carving out time for yourself is an important part of your mental health, especially if you’re more introverted than extroverted. Removing toxic people from your life can also be a part of setting boundaries. Just because someone is a childhood friend or family member, doesn’t mean we are required to keep them in our life if they are draining and toxic to be around.
Move your body more
Exercise can be an obvious resolution, and certainly one that helps your physical health. But it also helps your mental health. Exercise is one of the most effective ways of reducing depression or anxiety, improving sexual function, and maintaining cognitive function. Even if you’re just walking down the street, or taking the stairs instead of an elevator, try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day at least 5 days a week. If you’re in front of a screen all day, try to exercise somewhere where you’re not looking at one anymore.
Get plenty of sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the main ways to take care of yourself mentally. We use that downtime to rejuvenate and to process information accumulated throughout the day, which helps solidify memories. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, can make us irritable. People who suffer from insomnia are more likely to experience depression or anxiety than those who are well rested. Try to wind down 30 minutes before bedtime without any electronic devices, as these can keep you awake longer. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Seek help if you need it
Even though mental health is becoming more of a conversation in today’s society, there can still be a bit of a negative connotation to it. Ignore this, and go to therapy if you think you need it. Many of us try to sort through our problems on our own because we think we can handle it, or because it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. But sometimes we do need help from a professional, and there is nothing wrong with that. Therapy can provide you with a confidential and safe space to work through your past, relationships, set boundaries, notice patterns and develop healthy coping strategies to manage stress. Your therapist holds you accountable and allows you to have a constant reality check. Therapy does not work unless you work at it. You have to apply what you learn in your daily life. Please do not think you are going to be “fixed” after a few sessions. Consistency is key.
Set clear priorities for yourself
The best way to achieve any resolutions or goals is to make a plan for yourself, and set clear priorities for yourself. Working toward things that don’t matter to you or take away from your ability to do things that do matter can set you up to experience stress, conflict, anxiety, and even depression. Outline your top priorities, whether they are personal, professional, or a mix of both, based on what matters to you most. Make decisions about how to spend your time that align with that list. Keep in mind that sometimes that means saying “no” to people because your goal is to not overload yourself.