5 New Year’s Resolutions for Mental Health

New Year Ahead

While you’re getting organized, quitting smoking, and losing weight (the most popular New Year’s resolutions in the U.S.), you may be overlooking something that would actually make a bigger difference for you and your family than those popular resolutions.

How about some New Year’s resolutions for mental health?

You might find that the dissatisfaction that makes you think you need to get organized (again) can be handled better by working directly on the dissatisfaction instead of starting your year with a resolution you haven’t kept in any of the previous years when you’ve made that resolution. New Year’s resolutions for mental health might even make it easier for you to keep the other resolutions you choose to make.

Here are a few to consider:

I will take action on my mental health. There’s enough stigma around mental health in the U.S. that many people choose not to visit a therapist even when they know that a trained, unbiased listener is exactly what they need. A therapist has tools for dealing with mental health issues effectively, and for personal growth and development, too. In fact, that regular appointment is one of the nicest things you can do for yourself.

I will be kind to myself. Does your self talk sound like something you would never say to the people you love? We see people on Facebook posting, “I was a big fat pig” with a photo of their holiday dinner. A friend told us he puts notes up in his house saying, “Don’t smoke that cigarette, dummy!” You don’t deserve that. Treat yourself with respect.

I will set healthy boundaries. Sometimes we give other people too much power in our lives. Letting our significant others, our kids, or our bosses make our lives more difficult can masquerade as kindness, but it’s not always good for us. Define your limits at work, at home, and in other relationships. Maybe you’re not willing to do personal errands for your boss, to lie for your spouse, or to accept verbal abuse from your friends. Let this be the year you say so, directly and without anger.

I will exercise regularly. Does that sound like a physical health resolution? In fact, there is a lot of evidence that regular movement, especially outdoors, helps our mental health as well as our physical help. Put a daily walk, bike ride, or swim on your calendar and stick to it no matter what. Feeling too low for a walk? Move for three minutes, and then you can head home… if you still want to.

I will resist negative thinking. It’s easy for us to figure that positive attitudes and happy thoughts are wishful thinking and that negative thoughts are realistic and practical. Actually, ruminating — going over and over the negative feelings and anxious thoughts that pop into our heads — is neither practical nor realistic. Distracting ourselves with work, exercise, or a puzzle is a healthier choice.