A new year is here, and with it comes one of our most treasured traditions: New Year’s resolutions. Every January, 40% of Americans set brand new goals with the hopes that this will finally be the year they become their “best self.”
But what does our “best self” even look like? According to Statista, some of the top resolutions in 2017 included saving money, losing weight, and finding love. Absent from this list? Resolutions focused on mental or emotional health.
It can seem overwhelming to make resolutions for your mental health, especially when there are so many possible directions to take. Here are 9 achievable New Year’s resolutions that will give you a head start to better mental health in 2019. Remember, this is just a list of ideas. If these don’t make sense for you right now, then don’t feel like you have to take them on. You don’t owe any sort of transformation to anybody.
1. Schedule a mental health checkup.
Mental health, like physical health, is best maintained with a medical professional. Talk to your doctor about your mental health. It doesn’t have to be a big deal – it can be a part of your annual physical or part of your next appointment. Mental health affects physical health and vice versa, so keeping your doctor in the loop is critical to seeing the whole picture. If you don’t have a regular doctor, check out your local clinics. Many will host free mental health screenings that are open to the community.
2. Create a self-care plan.
When we talk about self-care, we don’t just mean bubble baths and your favorite takeout (though that can definitely be self-care). Basic tasks like brushing your teeth or doing your laundry can make a huge difference with your mental health. Brainstorm a list of self-care activities that help you feel your best. Make a self-care plan in the case of an unexpected mental health emergency. Not sure how to incorporate self-care into your daily routine? Check out the Beginner’s Guide to Self-Care to get you started.
3. Throw yourself into a new hobby.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, three-fourths of people experiencing work stress have stress in other areas of their lives. Finding a hobby to counteract this stress is crucial. Look for an opportunity to try something out of your comfort zone. Sign up for a writing class, get into photography, volunteer and meet new people in your community! Your hobby doesn’t even have to be something that you’re good at. It just has to be something that makes you happy.
Looking for a new volunteering opportunity this year? Apply to be a Crisis Counselor and join our community of empathy MVPs, all from the comfort of your home.
4. Keep track of what affects your mood.
A lot of factors come into play with mental health, such as genetics, personality, and current life situation. We can’t alter our genetics, but we can learn what in our environment affects our mental health. Pay attention to what alters your mood. Find a way to keep track of these triggers, whether it’s through making notes on your phone or keeping a journal. Having a physical record will help patterns emerge and in turn allow you to develop the right coping skills for your lifestyle.
5. Evaluate your relationship with social media.
There has been a lot of research in the past few years on the effect of social media on our mental health. Take a step back and look at how you’re using social media. Do you feel worse after going on social media? Do you check your accounts right before you go to sleep and first thing when you wake up? If so, it might be worth cutting down. Remember, social media is not a reflection reality—it’s a curated page of how someone wants to be seen. Small things like turning off push notifications or moving the apps to a different folder can make a huge difference.
6. Fall in love with your body.
We are constantly bombarded with edited images of people’s bodies, whether it’s in advertisements, movies, or on social media. Our human instinct is to compare ourselves to how those people look. Fight that instinct! Make a conscious effort to say nice things about your body. Follow body positive accounts on social media so that you’re seeing the full spectrum of body types. Use language that focuses more on health and less on weight and appearance. Your body is with you forever; be nice to it!
7. Make your sleep a priority.
There’s a well-documented connection between quality of sleep and mood. For those with a mental illness, sleep deprivation can be a serious trigger for more serious symptoms. In fact, 36% of our conversations here at Crisis Text Line include the word “sleep.”Take sleep your seriously. Create a sleep routine that gets your mind and body ready for sleep. Keeping your phone away from you as much as possible while you’re getting ready so that you’re not tempted to use it.
8. Practice setting boundaries.
Being able to say “no” is one of the most important life skills you can have. Whether it’s in work responsibilities or in relationships, make it a priority to communicate your boundaries. Turn down that extra assignment if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Spend a night in if you’re feeling exhausted. Those friends, employers, and partners that truly support you will respect your limits. And don’t let people try and persuade you differently. You know yourself better than anyone else.
9. Let yourself feel without judgment.
Managing mental health is a long-term process. Everyone’s journey looks different; don’t feel pressured to fit into a pre-existing story. Allow yourself to have feelings, without worrying about whether they’re good or bad. It’s okay if some days are better than others. Be kind to yourself when you have those bad days. Having a bad day doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means that you’re a human being.