Making New Year’s resolutions? Don’t forget, your mind is just as important as your body! Try these 10 mental health resolutions that will totally change your life forever!
I’ve never been a fan of “healthy” New Year’s resolutions. Goals are one thing, but resolutions are usually too extreme to actually succeed, then make you feel like a failure when you give up on them by January 15th. So, I’m not going to tell you to make resolutions to lose 50 pounds, or to give up sugar (or worse, denounce coffee!).
Instead, I’d like to propose a few mental health resolutions that actually set you up for success and help you live a happier life…which in turn leads to an overall healthier life.
Mental health resolutions to make
1. Schedule in “worry-free” time each day
If you only make one mental health New Year’s resolution this year, make it this one! Trust me, I know how hard it is to stop worrying, especially if you have anxiety disorder, but you can’t live a healthy life if you spend every waking moment in a state of tension.
It took practice, but I make myself stop worrying before bedtime. I remind myself that I can’t do anything about “it” (it being my worry, usually money) at midnight, so there is no point stressing over it. I make myself think about something positive instead.
2. Stop getting disproportionately angry
If you fly off the handle and throw a tantrum over minor inconveniences, it’s time to reevaluate your life. Many years ago, I gave myself a new rule: no more getting angry over things that don’t affect my life for more than a few minutes.
I know too many people who let one tiny thing ruin their entire day, who seethe with anger for hours over things that only affected their lives for a few minutes. By all means, get angry when the situation calls for it. Just get proportionately angry, then let it go when the event stops impacting your life. Spilled milk takes a minute to clean up. That’s how long you get to be angry about it, then you have to move on!
3. Stop sacrificing your needs for others’ “wants”
It’s one thing to sacrifice your own needs to help someone with their greater needs. However, it’s another thing entirely to sacrifice your needs for their “wants.” Let me explain with examples.
- Example 1: You are feeling really run down both emotionally and physically. You need a break, but your friend desperately needs someone to watch her daughter so that she can go to the emergency room. You realize that her need is greater, so you sacrifice your own to help her. This is fine.
- Example 2: You’re exhausted from a long week and need to unwind on Friday night at home on your sofa with a good book. Your friend is going to a party and doesn’t want to go alone. If you go, you’re sacrificing your needs for her wants. Give yourself permission to say no!
I don’t mean online, either! Have you ever noticed how very little we actually connect with and focus on each other? Not just with each other, but with the little things around us that have potential to bring so much more joy than a funny meme on Facebook.
As I was writing this, my dog came over and put her paw on my leg, a sign that she wants snuggles. I barely noticed that she was there and absently said, “not now, Mocha.” I stopped myself, though. The 30 seconds of attention for and from her is a win-win for both of us. She got snuggles, and I got a reminder that there are creatures in this house that love me unconditionally.
Another example: my son is very chatty in the morning right as I’m about to start working. In the past, I’d half listen and miss opportunities to connect with him. Instead, I started focusing more on what he is saying. Giving him my total attention only sets my day back by like 15 minutes, and in return I’ve learned so much about my teenager’s interests, thoughts, and feelings.
Stop zoning out, scrolling Facebook, or giving only your divided attention to those who are trying to connect with you, be it another human or furry friend!
5. Don’t be afraid to try
I love Yoda, but the Jedi master was wrong when he said “Do. Or Do not. There is no try.” I see that quote everywhere, and it bugs me to no end.
The spirit of the quote is great, he’s trying to get Luke to have faith in his abilities. Still, it sends a pretty messed up message: if you don’t think you can do something, then don’t bother trying.
I say go ahead and try! I have some ideas that I want to try to boost my income. I’ve put them off for months because I’m afraid they won’t work. This year, I’m going to try. That’s it. Try. If they fail, no big deal. If they succeed, though, maybe I can finally get out of this financial rut that I’m currently in.
6. Don’t measure yourself against social media standards
Social media has many benefits, but it is also a master at making us feel inadequate. Between the gorgeous desserts on Pinterest to the spectacular fashion shots on Instagram, it’s easy to feel like we’ll never measure up.
Let me tell you something about those pictures (and I’m speaking from experience). Behind nearly every stunning shot on Pinterest is a blogger who spent $500+ on a DSLR camera, $100+ on backdrops and props, and hundreds of dollars on courses to teach them how to take perfect shots. What you don’t see: the 1,000 other shots showing what it actually looks like in real life.
For example: here’s an edited shot that I used in a dog treat campaign last year:
Here is the blurry shot right before it that shows my yard as it really looks most days!
Bottom line: stop judging your real life against someone’s staged life.
7. Stand up for yourself more often
This is definitely one mental health resolution that I need to make! I am not my best advocate, that’s for sure. I let people walk all over me, hurt my feelings, and make me feel small or incompetent without ever saying a word about it.
For those of us with anxiety disorder, it’s never going to be easy to stand up for ourselves. We have to try, though. Even if you end up doing it in a totally passive-aggressive manner (sharing a Facebook post that describes your feelings, for example), it’s a step in the right direction. I abhor vague-booking, but I also understand why some people do it. Some of us aren’t comfortable coming right out and saying, “you know what, you really hurt my feelings!”
8. Use the block, unfollow, and post filter functions on Facebook
I don’t want to get political here, but I’ll tell you this: before the 2016 election, I never really bothered to unfollow or unfriend people, and I didn’t even know that you could post to “friends except…” After that dark day, I started clicking that unfollow button more and more for the people I couldn’t outright unfriend (family members, mostly). It took time, but now my news feed is filled with people who don’t make me want to scream.
I also use the “friends except…” feature to share my political thoughts with people who actually get it and weed out those who just don’t. Basically, people that I can actually hold a civilized conversation with see those posts. The rest of my friends’ list sees my posts about my cats & dogs. I’m a lot happier because of it, and I don’t spend hours seething at the screen every morning!
9. Do one thing you love every single day
Even if you only have a few minutes to spare each day, find the time to do something that makes you happy. Just you. Not you and your kids, or you and your partner, or you and your followers on social media. Just you.
Don’t feel like it has to be a productive “something,” either. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Harry Potter or binge-watched Charmed (the real one, not the crappy reboot) just because it makes me happy.
10. Accept that good enough is good enough
I’ve said this many times before, but it’s worth repeating: good enough IS good enough. There is no such thing as “perfect.” Do your best and be content with the outcome. You can always take notes on what you’d do differently next time! Also, keep in mind that not everything is worthy of your “best effort.” Sometimes, your second-best effort is good enough, too.
Above all else, remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Taking care of yourself emotionally makes it a whole lot easier to take care of yourself physically! So if you’re making New Year’s Resolutions, please make at least one that benefits your mind!
Do you make any other mental health resolutions? Tell me about them!