If you’re thinking about making a New Year’s resolution, consider focusing on those that will benefit your mental health and wellbeing.
Often our New Year’s resolutions are very goal-oriented: we want to save a certain amount of money, lose weight or change jobs.
While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with these goals, it can be more helpful to focus on the journey rather than the destination. For example, we might choose to spend more time with friends and family, do exercise we enjoy, or read more books. These intentions will help us to feel good, and we’ll be more likely to follow them if they’re realistic and achievable.
Here are some suggestions for resolutions that will boost your mental health and wellbeing. Remember that resolutions don’t need to be too lofty – often small, positive ones work better.
First: spend some time reflecting
Before deciding on your New Year’s resolutions, spend some time reflecting on the past year – what lessons have you learnt in the last 12 months?
Have there been any achievements or experiences that have brought you joy or satisfaction this past year? Write them down and bring those learnings into your resolutions.
Do exercise that makes you feel good
Instead of exercising to achieve a certain result, commit to being active because it makes you feel good. Think about what exercise you actually enjoy.
If you hate the gym, skip it. It might take some time to figure out what you like – trial different types of exercise and observe how you feel during and after. Maybe you enjoy running or weightlifting, or perhaps you enjoy dancing, yoga or walking. There’s no right or wrong – the aim is to enjoy yourself.
Spend meaningful time with friends and family
Our relationships are a crucial part of positive mental health and wellbeing, and they require a significant amount of time and effort in order to grow.
You could focus on a couple of important relationships, and plan for how you will spend more meaningful time together. This could look like a regular date night if you’re in a couple, or frequent catch ups with friends. Choose to spend time with those you care about in a way that strengthens the relationship.
Dedicate time to a hobby you love
One upside to lockdown was that some of us discovered or rediscovered some of our lesser-known skills or talents. Choose a hobby that helps you get into a ‘flow’ state – a state of being where you don’t notice time passing and feel very ‘in the moment’.
This could be drawing or painting, gaming, baking, music or anything else that you enjoy. Having your own hobby gives you something that’s just for you and can help you to recharge.
Focus on being in the moment
When life is frantic, it’s easy to rush from one thing to the next. When we’re doing this constantly, it’s likely that we miss out on some of life’s great moments. Focusing on being in the present moment is called mindfulness.
There are lots of ways to practise mindfulness – from meditation (you could try a meditation app such as Headspace or Smiling Mind) to mini-mindfulness activities, such as mindful walking or drinking a cup of tea mindfully.
It’s normal to be distracted a lot of the time, but even practising mindfulness for five minutes a day can be beneficial.
Reach out for support when you need it
It’s not always easy to ask for help when you need it, but you’ll usually be glad you did. If you’re feeling depressed, anxious or lacking in confidence to see through any resolutions around your mental health and wellbeing, it may be time to get the help of a trained mental health professional. They can guide you through any issues you’re facing. Booking in to see a mental health professional could be a positive step toward your wellness in 2022.
Setting realistic and achievable intentions for the new year can be a force for good. If, along the way towards achieving those goals, you find that you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. You’re human, and there’s always a new day to begin again.
Finally, it’s worth noting that ‘resolutions’ aren’t everyone’s cup of tea – we don’t need to constantly ‘optimise ourselves’ to be worthy. If you feel like setting these intentions in stone will only cause you stress, give yourself permission to skip the ‘resolutions’ altogether, and focus instead on building healthy habits that nourish you.