New Year's resolutions for mental health may not be on your radar yet, but as we approach the end of 2018, many are thinking about the new year. Common goals include behavior changes like healthy eating, increased exercise, or quitting undesired habits like smoking. In year's past, my goals have also been about changing my behavior. This year, I am shifting my mindset around resolutions and creating goals focused on improving my mental health. New Year's resolutions for mental health aren't just motivated by a desire to behave differently, but by a desire to feel differently.
Living a Blissful Life
As the new year rolls around, many people create yearly goals or New Year’s resolutions. Plenty of people also create targets throughout the year; I personally set monthly objectives, which are broken down from my yearly goals. However, at times, goals can be harmful to mental health. What are the symptoms of unhealthy yearly goals?
Perfectionism and being perfect often hold you back from living in bliss. You've heard the phrase "nobody's perfect," and you've probably said it yourself many times. It's a term people use without much thought. I've been thinking about perfectionism a lot recently, both because I've had substantial growth in this area, but also because I have more work to do. Perfectionism, trying to be perfect, can be a real happiness killer if it goes unchecked.
Recently, I began to wonder if my medication is an emotional crutch. An emotional crutch is something that one relies on during a period of difficulty. But is using medication as an emotional crutch really that bad?
Being in awe as a thought practice can completely transform the way you experience the world. If you wake up and choose to live in awe, you’ll likely notice previously-missed details in your environment and the people around you ("The Relationship Between Anxiety and Awe"). Being in awe is so natural to children; if you spend time around kids, you’ll notice they’re fascinated by small details. Bubbles, colors, animals, nature, and how things work all fascinate children. However, as we grow older, we lose some of this awe and wonder, and the feeling of being in awe disappears.
Winter is a great time to experience the joy of hygge. If you've never heard of the Scandinavian practice of hygge (pronounced HOO-guh), think crackling fire, fuzzy socks, mugs of hot cocoa, flannel pajamas, and warm blankets. There is no direct translation in English, but it derives from the Norwegian word for "wellbeing." Hygge is generally considered a Danish practice that encourages wellness by creating cozy, comforting experiences. As the daughter of a Norwegian immigrant, my mom often incorporated this concept into our home environment and I have a deep appreciation for it. Whenever I'm feeling anxious or sad, I know I can soothe myself by practicing the joy of hygge.
It can be a struggle to be present, but using this victory visualization can help bring you from future desires back to the present moment. A writer I admire recently posted this inspiring visualization and my twist is intended to provide relief from anxiety. Many of us live in future thoughts -- whether we're worried about future anxiety or only thinking about what we're trying to achieve in order to move on to the next goal or task. Help yourself to be present with these steps.
We've all heard that meditation can reduce stress, improve our emotional wellbeing, and help us increase self-awareness. As a person who struggles with anxiety, I found meditation difficult in the beginning. I wanted to relax, but my mind continually wandered to all the things I needed to do. My body was fidgety, and I worried I was doing it wrong. I brought my concerns to my meditation teacher who helped me see you don't have to meditate perfectly to reap the many benefits of meditation.
If we reduce irritability, our experience of life changes. Irritability can be a side effect of many mental illnesses ("Irritability and Mental Illness: Just Stop Already!"). However, your day doesn't need to be controlled by irritation.
Setting healthy boundaries is an essential element of relationships but navigating the implementation of boundaries can be intimidating. A therapist once said to me, "We teach people how to treat us." Those words stayed with me. Once I understood that I teach people how to treat me based on what I will and won't tolerate, I felt empowered and began setting healthy boundaries in my relationships.