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  • aghinshaw

New Year's Resolutions Ideas for Mental Health

Updated: Jan 5, 2022

Happy New Year! 2020 has certainly been a challenging year for many, and I’m sure that many of us are happy to put the year behind us! I enjoy using this day to reflect on goals to work towards in the coming year. Below are a few New Year’s resolution ideas for improving your overall mental wellness in 2021.

Start a gratitude journal

In her paper The Science of Gratitude (2018), Dr. Summer Allen elaborates on how scientific studies find that practicing gratitude not only helps to lower stress, but it can also help us to deal with distressing events as they come up. Reflecting on what we have can also help us shift to a more positive mindset. For example, thinking about having your health, your home, your family, etc.

Prioritize quality sleep

Commit to turning screens off at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Set a regular bedtime and wake up time. Use mindfulness apps such as Headspace to fall asleep to calming sounds. Whatever helps you, aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.

Incorporate more omega-3 in your diet

According to Dr. Barish-Wreden from Sutter Medical Foundation, “a healthy diet can be more effective for treating depression than prescription medications” (source). Foods like salmon, dark leafy greens, beans, and nuts may help to improve mental health.

Access your support network

I would say that this tip is especially important while we are still in a pandemic. Check-in with loved ones with a quick text or phone call. If it’s not possible to check-in with loved ones daily, aim to connect with someone at least once a week.

Commit to healthy boundaries

Ask yourself if you feel depleted by any of the following: long work hours, a negative relationship, high demands at home with little support, or anything else that is pushing beyond what you’re comfortable with? Now might be the time to establish firm limits that honor your comfort level. If necessary, consider cutting out things such as toxic relationships.

Try daily meditation

I personally find it easier to meditate during a time when I already have an established routine, such as making the bed after I wake up or winding down before bed. Choose a time (and preferably a place as well) to meditate and stick to it. Take a few deep breaths and mindfully let go of tension in the mind and body. If your mind wanders, treat yourself kindly by merely noticing that your mind has wandered, and return your attention back.

Give therapy a try

This one especially goes out to folks who may be trying everything else to manage their stress, yet still find themselves overwhelmed and struggling. But I also recommend therapy to anyone who would benefit from a regular check-in with themselves.

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