2020 has come to a close, meaning the majority of people have now made a promise to take better care of themselves in 2021. This past year was tough for many of us. While we may have gained a few pounds during quarantine and plan to eat healthier, we must remind ourselves that physical health isn’t the only resolution to consider. Setting a new year’s resolution to work on your mental health is important – for everyone! Research has proven that certain strategies really do improve mood and reduce the risk for mental illness. Here are 11 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions for Better Mental Health.
1. Hold yourself to a healthy sleep schedule.
It’s not just you, our whole nation is sleep-deprived. We tend to view busy lives and poor sleep as a badge of success for our accomplishments. Truthfully, poor sleep habits contribute to depression and anxiety. Whether you suffer from a mental illness or not, having a sleep schedule is the best way to improve sleep. Strive for a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep, and don’t get too carried away on weekends. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule goes a long way in looking better and feeling better.
2. Focus on maintaining exercise.
Exercise is excellent for mental health, and there is an endless amount of research to prove it. Some studies have even proved exercise to be as effective as antidepressants. Committing to exercise can be hard for many, especially if you’re already suffering from lack of motivation that often comes with depression. The solution is finding a way to make exercise easier. Don’t focus on gym memberships and diets right away. Instead, just go for more walks. Committing to walking every day can improve restful sleep and increase motivation to exercise long term.
3. Explore a new hobby.
Choosing a new hobby, or going back to one you’ve let slide is a great way to explore new talents and decompress when needed. Mastering hobbies that intrigue or challenge you can improve self-confidence and overall mood. If you’re not sure where to start, circle back to your childhood or think of the last thing that made you forget to eat.
4. Step away from the smartphone.
It is actually very common to become more depressed and anxious from social media. Taking a break from the screen or choosing to set your phone in another room for a few hours is a healthy step in becoming more present. Too often we compare ourselves to others rather than being present in our own lives. Use this time away from the screen to read a book, try a hobby or walk the neighborhood.
5. Learn how to meditate.
Meditation helps so many people for a variety of reasons. Research shows that meditation can reduce stress levels, control anxiety and improve sleep. There are many apps available to help you meditate such as Headspace, The Mindfulness App and 10% Happier. It only takes a few minutes a day, and by sticking to it, it can offer long-lasting mental health benefits.
6. Get a planner.
When we have too much to do, it can make it difficult to complete tasks or get motivated. Feeling overwhelmed and overextended can lead to bad habits. Often, these bad habits are harder to break than planning in the first place. Snag a planner and try logging how long it takes to complete a task. As you plan the days ahead, it will become easier to manage and succeed. With a planner, you can check things off and have a sense of accomplishment. Some planners even offer guidance on increased performance and help track your progress.
7. Keep a journal.
This is not the same as your day planner. Use a personal journal to write down overwhelming thoughts or negative emotions. Harboring these thoughts at work, school, or while trying to sleep can result in exhaustion, stress and anxiety. By keeping a notebook handy, you can release these thoughts on paper and feel a sense of relief. Research shows that journaling can strengthen self-discipline and spark your creativity.
8. Help yourself by helping others.
Helping others is a great way to step out of our own headspace and feel good. Studies suggest that the single strongest predictor of happiness is prosociality – connecting with and to others. Helping others is a great generator for social connection, and doesn’t have to be time consuming. Offering to help a friend organize their closet or snagging their lunch tab is a great way to boost happiness for yourself and others.
9. Practice gratitude.
Studies show one of the easiest ways to feel happier is to practice gratitude. Reflecting on the good things in your life is one of the easiest ways to do so! When you find yourself in a negative headspace, try journaling or saying out loud three things you’re grateful for. Practicing gratitude can open the door to more relationships, improved physical health and more.
10. Be kind to yourself.
It’s always important to give yourself some grace. Don’t set yourself up for failure by believing change will happen overnight. Be sure to fully commit, while trying these tips in healthy doses. When we commit to too many things or hold too high of a standard, it can quickly lead to burnout and become more burdensome than rewarding. Try writing down a game plan, monitor it over a few weeks and then you can look back to see what’s working and where you need help.
11. Learn more about mental health.
One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to understand it. Fortunately, there are many resources available that give awesome insight into mental health conditions. You can also reach out to professionals to talk about your specific situation. If you are experiencing mental health concerns but unsure of the cause, there are great resources available such as Mental Health First Aid Kit. MHFA teaches people how to understand, identify and respond to signs and symptoms of common mental health and substance use challenges.
Life coaching in St. Petersburg Florida
Surpassing challenges and reaching resolutions aren’t always a walk in the park – but we all have to try! If you are looking to identify personal goals and develop an action plan to reach them, we encourage you to call our office and ask about our life coaching options. The team at McNulty Counseling and Wellness takes a holistic approach to promote balance in all areas of your life. Contact us here or call us at 727-344-9867 to begin life coaching at our office or virtually in Saint Petersburg, Florida.