The new year offers a unique opportunity for us to reset. 361 days lie ahead for you to show up differently in pursuit of a more capable you. As we begin to refine and apply our 2019 resolutions and goals, ensure at least one is dedicated to supporting your mental health.
Making positive changes through resolutions can encompass more than numbers on the scale, your attendance at the gym, performance at work and personal finances. Use the five resolutions below as inspiration while considering how you can boost your own mental wellness this year. Begin with small, achievable adjustments to your routine as you embrace a year-long journey of self-discovery and care.
Be Kind to Yourself
Have you ever paused to reflect upon how you talk to yourself? Our inner critic, the judgmental voice inside our heads, has an enormous impact on our perspective, mood and actions. Try to soften your inner critic’s voice this year. Refrain from putting yourself down, comparing yourself to others and using pessimistic self-talk.
It’s important to recognize and respect your personal and professional capacities. Understanding when to say “no” and when a break is needed to recharge is vital to achieving balance. Additionally, be conscious of holding realistic expectations for yourself. With realistic expectations you can avoid setting yourself up for failure while finding greater self-acceptance.
Finally, remember that you’re human and fallible. Instead of harping on a mistake, try to learn from it. Realize where you are on your journey, welcome challenges and take time to reflect on what they can teach you. We’re only given this life once, talk to yourself kindly as you walk through it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness in a given year, and 1 in 5 youth aged 13-18 will experience a severe mental disorder (NAMI). Chances are someone you work alongside, are friends with or related to is struggling or will struggle with their mental health. While the prevalence rates are real, discussion around coping and seeking help is not.
As a society, we’re much more comfortable discussing our physical health than our mental or emotional well-being. This can make someone battling a mental illness feel incredibly isolated. Too many individuals are raised with a “pull yourself up by your boot straps” mentality and believe it’s solely their responsibility to find a way to cope when dark times arrive. Independently managing a mental illness is a great responsibility that you don’t have to take on alone. Help is available.
It can be overwhelming and uncomfortable to seek help. Requesting assistance with your mental health requires courage and vulnerability as it’s one of the greatest testaments of your strength, not weakness. If you’re struggling, consider talking to a family member, friend or professional this year.
Make Time for Self-Care
Make yourself a priority in the new year. Start by scheduling time for self-care. By finding time to relax, unplug and recharge, you’ll enjoy a more present, productive and positive self. Through self-care you can restore your physical, emotional and mental health simultaneously.
Find an activity or location that welcomes self-reflection. When alone, you can devote greater concentration to meditation, navigating your emotions and problem solving. Living in a fast-pace society that praises multitasking, our responsibilities have a sneaky way of being addressed before our personal needs. Self-care reminds us of the meaning behind our needs. Those who continually neglect them are at a higher risk of experiencing unhappiness, low self-esteem and feelings of resentment.
Find Something to Be Thankful for Each Day
There’s always something to be thankful for. Strive to find time each day to recite a few items you’re grateful for. It can be as simple as “I’m grateful I woke up today.” No matter what your day has in store, you can always ground yourself with positivity by counting your blessings.
An individual’s enthusiasm, determination and energy can all be positively impacted by completing daily reflection. “Researchers have found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a variety of unexpected benefits. These include higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, optimism and happiness” (Harvard Health Publishing). Gratitude also reduces stress by reminding us of all that we have. In a world of plenty, it can be easy to forget to appreciate what you do have.
The present has two foes, the past and the future. Too often we dwell on the past or fixate on the future and miss out on the present. In the new year, strive to live in the now. When you’re physically, emotionally and mentally present, you’re able to experience life to the fullest.
Living in the moment takes practice and begins with recognition. What makes it difficult for you to remain present? When something demands your undivided attention, what measures do you take to ensure you remain focused? Let your answers guide adjustments you can make to regain your sense of presence.
Meaningful relationships, trust and our fondest memories are gifts that emerge out of presence. As you continue to practice, you’ll begin to find deeper meaning in not only your interactions, but your life. “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”– Buddha
New Year’s resolutions aren’t about reinventing yourself to create the “perfect” you. Instead, they enable us to build upon what we already possess to improve our overall well-being. By making your mental health a priority, you’re sure to find a new level of growth, fulfillment and peace across all aspects of your life.