6 Resolutions to Improve Your Mental Health
With the start of the new year, friends and family are bound to ask, “What are your resolutions for the year?” This question can bring excitement and hope to some. But for those who struggle with mental illness, it can bring feelings of hopelessness and anxiety. Achieving goals for those with mental illness is difficult and the pressure to completely reinvent themselves in the start of the new year seems impossible and dredges up feelings of inadequacy. For many struggling, their true goal for the year is just to survive and attempt to thrive.
So, what is a healthier approach? Maybe we need to start with resolutions for our mental health, as a baseline, before we embark on any external goals.
The reason this New Years Resolution mindset is so frustrating to many is it lacks the idea of appreciating process. If the goal is the only thing that matters, then not achieving that goal will feel like the end of the world, even to those without mental illness. If we make goals, they must be possible and sustainable, leading us to actually enjoy the process. So here are 6 achievable, sustainable, and enjoyable baseline resolutions to improve your mental health:
1. Cultivate honesty
One of the simplest though not necessarily easy places to start improving your mental health is by just committing to being more honest in every aspect of your life. Being honest in general eases anxiety. More specifically, being honest about where you are in your mental health journey will free you up in ways you never thought to be possible. Start by being honest with yourself, then being honest with others. This will also lead you to this next step and resolution.
2. Seek help
When you are honest with where you are at with your mental health, you are likely to realize there are actionable steps to take to get the help you need. This can be a scary step, however, seeking help can take many forms and you can start slow! You can reach out to a friend or trusted family member about needing help. You can finally schedule that counseling or psychiatric appointment. You can talk to your doctor about different medications or dosages. Regardless of how you seek help, trust the process and trust that you are on your way to a more healthy inner life.
3. Add physical health changes
More and more research is coming out about how our physical choices greatly affect our mental state. Gaining/losing unhealthy amounts of weight, eating poorly, insufficient exercise, and insufficient nutrition all negatively impact your mental health. Medication and counseling is crucial, but the body and mind are connected in such a deep way that it is so important that we respect our bodies as well. However, choose goals that are possible and sustainable. For example, it might not be sustainable for you to exercise daily at the gym, but it’s sustainable for you to go on a walk through your neighborhood or do some yoga videos you found on YouTube. It might not be possible for you to go completely vegan or organic, but taking vitamins daily or drinking more water can be. Don’t force it. Find something physically healthy that brings you joy, start small, and let this forward momentum snowball.
4. Find or expand community
Finding a community where you feel safe can be life changing. If you are having trouble finding community, whether it be those who understand and support you or those who are going through the same struggles, searching online for mental health groups is a great place to start. Expand to meeting with people in person and building relationships. Humans are relational creatures who need healthy relationships to thrive. A good beginning goal is to form one new friendship or deepening an existing one. Just making one connection with another person can bring you joy and renewed purpose.
5. Practice self-love
Do a mental check-in. Ask yourself, “Do I have compassion for myself?” Write your response in a journal and reflect upon it. If your answer is overwhelmingly “no” and you have many negative thoughts about who you are, then you may need to start practicing self-love and positive affirmations. For example, you can write down a list of everything you truly appreciate about yourself and then as a daily practice, repeat these out loud. Or, it can be as simple as meditating on the phrase, “My experience is valid, and I am worthy of love.” Having compassion for yourself and your mistakes brings a sense of peace and creates a desire to keep moving forward despite setbacks.
6. Practice self-advocacy
A daunting task is speaking up for your own mental health needs and rights. By starting with a few simple steps, you will find self-advocacy to be extremely rewarding and empowering. You can begin by simply signing petitions or joining mental health advocacy groups. You can gather resources and do research on what your rights are. You can even go back to resolution one and have open and honest conversations with those in your life about how you want them to treat you and issues regarding your mental health. You will find that speaking up for yourself and what you need brings confidence and a sense of regaining control over your life.
These resolutions don’t have to begin January 1st. You are in control of your goals all year round. Remember, it’s all about enjoying the process of growth and healing. So, compassionately and intentionally, begin. Start with small, possible, sustainable changes and find supportive people to help you along the way.
To learn more about how to practically support the Arkansas mental health movement and to get involved in mental health changes statewide this year, use #ARmindsMatter.