As we enter the new year, thinking about resolutions is typically at the forefront of our minds. If you are thinking about setting a goal to improve your mental health in the new year, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find out how to create attainable goals and gain ideas to improve your mental wellness in the new year.
How to Set SMART Goals
For you to be successful in reaching your mental wellness goals, your goals need to be SMART. What does this mean? SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound.
Specific –What is your start date? What specifically do you want to improve? What is the specific focus of your goal? Why do you want to accomplish this goal? How will you accomplish your goal? Include as much detail as possible when you are writing your goal.
Measurable – How are you going to measure and track your progress? If you don’t track your progress, you won’t know if or when you accomplish your goal.
Action-oriented– Write a clear list of actions you will take to achieve your goal.
Realistic –Will this goal improve my mental wellness? Is this goal realistic? Or is it too broad or unrealistic and setting you up for failure? Set small, realistic goals. The more realistic your goals are, the better you can track your progress and avoid feeling like you are failing at reaching your goal.
Time-bound – How long will it take to reach your goal? By when do you want to complete this change? Is this goal just a small step in a lifestyle change? Setting a time- frame will keep you more motivated.
To set yourself up for success, ensure that your goals align with the guidelines of a SMART goal. If your goals are not SMART, they may be vague, unrealistic, or unachievable.
Ideas for Mental Wellness Goals
If you want to improve your mental wellness in the new year but don’t know where to begin, here are some ideas. You can easily create a goal around one (or more) of these ideas to improve your mental health in the new year.
Get More Sleep
Getting more quality sleep can improve mental health and decrease anxiety, stress, and depression. Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Some ways to increase the quality of sleep include reducing screen time 1 hour before going to bed, reading a book before bed, practicing deep breathing, and creating a bedtime routine.
Develop a Morning Routine
Starting your day with a consistent morning routine will help set you up for better success for the rest of the day. Some ideas for a morning routine include waking up at the same time every day (best if you go to bed at a consistent time as well), drinking a glass of water as soon as you get up, making your bed, getting dressed, eating a healthy breakfast, and going for a walk.
Meditating helps us learn to redirect our thoughts and quiet our minds. It can help decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as regulate blood pressure and improve sleep quality. There are many forms of meditation, such as practicing mindfulness, visualization exercises, deep breathing, and even tai chi. Whatever form of meditation you choose, start for a small amount of time, and then work your way up as it becomes more comfortable.
Take a Media Break
Frequent media exposure on TV and social media can cause stress, anxiety, and frustration, even more than we are willing to admit. Aim to take a daily or weekly break from media to give yourself a mental break.
Focus on the present
We miss many moments when we are living in the past or the future. If things in your past are consistently bothering you, or you are experiencing stress and anxiety about the future, learning to focus on the present will help. Some ways to focus on the present include writing in a daily gratitude journal for what you are thankful for today, taking notice of your surroundings, practicing meditation, or reflecting on your day and savoring the best moments. You may also learn to practice focusing on your breath to bring you back to the present when your thoughts start to drift to the past or future.
Do Things You Enjoy
It is too easy for us to get stuck in a repetitive cycle of working, eating, and sleeping, which often leaves little time to do the things we enjoy. You can schedule time in your day or week to do something you enjoy. Even if you can only do it for 15 minutes, it will benefit your mental health.
Be Intentional with Friends and Family
Be intentional in connecting with your friends and family. Social support helps give us a sense of belonging and increases happiness (of course, when in positive relationships). Be intentional and make plans to see your family and friends, even if you do not feel like it. Not only will it benefit your mental wellness, but it will benefit the other person as well.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Diet and exercise are closely linked to mental wellness. Picking just one small lifestyle goal can help improve your mental health. Some options include getting at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, avoiding alcohol, limiting sugar, or learning how to cook a new healthy recipe every week.
Our biggest critics are ourselves, and negative self-talk can damage our mental health. Practice catching yourself when you are talking negatively to yourself and learn to practice self-compassion instead. Learn what triggers negative self-talk. You can even begin your day with positive affirmations to train yourself to speak well about yourself.
Go to Therapy
If you feel like you would benefit from therapy, make it a goal to attend therapy consistently. Therapy is a proven method for improving mental health. No matter what state you feel your mental health is in or what you are struggling with, therapy can help anyone.
Mental Wellness Goal Reminders
As you pick a goal to improve your mental wellness in the new year, there are a few key points to remember to set yourself up for success. When picking a goal, make sure that you have a clear reason for why you want to accomplish that goal. Then, you will have much better luck sticking to your plan. Make sure that you write SMART goals and trust the process. Also, be flexible. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control, and those situations can derail us from reaching our goal when we want to. When this happens, give yourself grace and compassion, and when it is time again, get back on track from where you left off.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.