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Approximately 27% of the U.S. population makes New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, while resolutions represent applaudable intentions, they are often steeped in shame, guilt, and self-blame. This year, put your mental health at the forefront by setting goals that fulfill you rather than induce shame.

 

How New Year’s Resolutions Impact Your Mental Health

The “new year, new you” rhetoric pushes you to focus on what you didn’t accomplish this year. As these unchecked tick boxes pile up in your mind, you resolve to turn them around. In the new year, you’re going to make up for lost time and change harmful habits once and for all.

Unfortunately, this mindset perpetuates a feeling of inadequacy. It makes you feel you can’t measure up to what other people are doing or your personal goals. And because most New Year’s resolutions are centered on achievements and productivity, they neglect to make room for positive mental health. So when February finds you going back on your resolutions, the cycle of dissatisfaction with yourself continues.

That doesn’t mean that you should avoid setting goals. Laying out objectives has numerous benefits, including:

  • Helping you prioritize and organize even when you’re overwhelmed
  • Allowing you to connect with your intuition
  • Relaxing your central nervous system by giving you a plan to face the unknown
  • Providing a framework for learning what works and what doesn’t
  • Increasing your satisfaction with life

 

Tips for Setting Supportive Resolutions

Making New Year’s resolutions can be helpful, but many people go about this task the wrong way. They may set unrealistic goals, contributing to tension, anxiety, and stress. In addition, many resolutions are rooted in insecurity, negativity, and restriction instead of affirmation, positivity, and abundance. Even if your resolutions aren’t specifically directed at your mental health, they can support your psychological wellness.

 

Focus on Being Instead of Doing

In a society that applauds productivity and efficiency over rest and rejuvenation, most people feel like they should do more. But adding obligations to a loaded schedule is a recipe for failure. Instead, eliminate some pressure by setting objectives for who you want to be instead of what you want to do. Doing this also helps you set authentic goals. When your resolutions are aligned with your more profound aspirations, you’re more likely to enjoy accomplishing and sticking with them.

 

Take Baby Steps

One of the reasons why 80% of people don’t keep up their New Year’s resolutions is that their goals are unattainable. Challenges can be motivating, but they’re discouraging if they’re unfeasible.

Constantly falling short of your resolutions can make you beat yourself up. Furthermore, failure to advance toward your goals may exacerbate depression and anxiety.

Making achievable resolutions keeps you in a motivated, positive mindset. You activate your brain’s reward centers every time you reach an objective. That subconscious pat on the back gives you confidence that you can perpetuate positive habits. In addition, your self-assurance will help you tackle tasks with ease, relieving stress and supporting a healthy emotional state.

 

Make It Fun

Many adults fall out of the habit of playing as they get older. We have different priorities and more responsibilities than we did as children. As a result, many adults have trouble accessing a child-like level of delight. Moreover, losing interest in pleasurable activities is also a symptom of depression.

Don’t let your New Year’s resolutions propel you into a negative spiral. You’re much more likely to stay optimistic about meeting your goals when they’re enjoyable.

Look at previous resolutions that have fallen to the wayside. Identify what took the joy out of them. If you couldn’t bring yourself to hit the gym regularly, maybe you should try a dance class. If you couldn’t complete the initial purge to keep your garage organized throughout the year, invite friends over to help.

Finding a bit of joy in everyday activities sustains a positive mood. Your resolutions should encourage you to live your best life.

 

Mental Health Resolutions to Make This Year

The top New Year’s resolutions have to do with exercising, losing weight, saving money, eating more healthfully, and working toward a career aspiration. Most people don’t make mental health resolutions. At the same time, more than 25% of Americans struggle with diagnosable psychological disorders in a given year. Focusing on your mental health helps you take steps toward mental wellness and allows room for personal growth.

 

Carve Out Time for Self-Care

Adults often give themselves time to relax only when they’ve finished all of their daily obligations. For many, this means that they never get a moment to de-stress. As their to-do list piles up, they prioritize productivity over rest. You may actually achieve less by doing this. Although you feel productive, you’re distracted. Your performance suffers because you’re trying to do too much. Moreover, you probably take plenty of breaks, but they’re not revitalizing because they make you feel guilty.

When you set an intention to relax, you can enjoy that time purposefully. Make a resolution to do something comforting and pleasurable every day.

 

Treat Yourself with Kindness

Are you aware of your negative self-talk? We often say things like, “I didn’t get anything done today,” or “I should be better at this by now.” These statements become our beliefs. They can even develop into ruminating thoughts that keep us trapped in anxiety, irritability, or depression.

Set a resolution to reframe your negative self-talk. You could write down three positive things about yourself at the end of each day to spark some affirmative momentum.

 

 

Look at the Lessons

Get in the habit of approaching obstacles and letdowns with a curious mind. Rather than shaming yourself for something you didn’t accomplish, praise yourself for what you did well. Then, ask yourself what the situation has to teach you. When you look at life as a series of lessons, you stop categorizing every event as a failure or accomplishment. Instead, you view your journey as a spectrum of occurrences. Each one offers you something valuable.

 

Making New Year’s Resolutions Work for Your Mental Health

When you don’t prioritize your mental health, you struggle with motivation, satisfaction, and resilience. It’s no wonder, then, that so many people struggle to stick with their New Year’s resolutions. Mental health goals aren’t typically at the top of the list. Establishing resolutions that support your emotional and psychological health can make life more enjoyable and help you achieve your other goals.

Ionut Raicea
Ionut Raicea