No matter who you are or what your background is, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t appreciate a fresh start. A reset. A clean slate. And even though the new year is a great time to set resolutions that support your mental wellbeing, it can also be challenging to follow through. External triggers, unforeseen events and old habits throw constant curveballs that can derail the best intentions.
There are tons of products and services available that can help make achieving wellness goals a reality, such as gym memberships, meal delivery services and counseling.
Setting resolutions that support mental wellbeing, which includes your thoughts, feelings and actions, can have a positive ripple effect on everyday life. Whether your resolutions focus on the physical, like working out more, or emotional, such as setting boundaries, it helps to have a game plan. Here are some tips to help you keep your wellbeing intentions throughout the year.
First and foremost, try your best to approach goals with a positive attitude. A 2022 study explained how attitude plays a role in developing new habits. It stressed how habits are more likely to be developed by people who practice meditation and mindfulness, because it not only reduces anxiety, depression and stress, it also increases self-compassion and psychological wellbeing.
Reflecting on previous goals can offer valuable insight as you come up with a new list of resolutions. Ask yourself questions such as
Answering these questions ahead of time can help you avoid repeating old habits.
Evidence shows that it is tremendously helpful to create an action plan for how you will reach your goals and respond to stressful and awkward situations that could throw you off track. In short, if X happens, I will do Y. For example, if your goal is not to drink alcohol, have a rehearsed response ready should you be offered an alcoholic drink at a party, such as “No, thank you. But I will take a water.”
Brainstorming scenarios and your desired response prepares you to respond intentionally, rather than reverting to old habits.
Have you noticed how everything seems harder when you’re tired? Rest is proven to enhance decision making, improve productivity and heal your body. Combined, you will be able to make choices that improve your mental wellbeing.
The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) curricula recommend giving your body time to relax. Unplug from electronics (goodnight, social media!), improve your sleep hygiene and develop healthy habits like meditation, yoga and stretching.
Instead of tackling your mental wellbeing goals alone, improve your chances of success by finding support. MHFA recommends finding programs, activities and people who can support you in your goals.
For those experiencing mental health challenges, know that you’re not alone. Consider reaching out to a medical professional to start. They may recommend a peer-support group, counseling, life coaching or something else.
MHFA, an awareness and education training that teaches people how to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of a mental health or substance use challenge, can help you help yourself or others tackle goals and challenges. Consider taking a MHFA course in 2023!
For more information on setting and keeping New Year’s resolutions, check out these MHFA articles:
Bailey, R. R. (2017). Goal setting and action planning for health behavior change. AM J Lifestyle Med, 13(6): 615–618. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827617729634
Cherry, H. (2022, November 9). The benefits of resting and how to unplug in a busy world. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2021/01/15/the-benefits-of-resting-and-how-to-unplug-in-a-busy-world/?sh=2a3cf7d22133
Mental Health First Aid. (2020). Mental Health First Aid USA. National Council for Mental Wellbeing.
Richards, C. (2014, Dec. 22). Before setting new goals, evaluate the previous ones. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/22/your-money/personal-finance-goals.html.
Suni, E. & Vyas, N. (2022, Sept. 29). Sleep hygiene. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene.
Tran, M. A. Q., Vo-Thanh, T., Soliman, M., Ha, A. T., & Van Pham, M. (2022). Could mindfulness diminish mental health disorders? The serial mediating role of self-compassion and psychological well-being. Current Psychology, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-022-03421-3.
Verplanken, B., & Orbell, S. (2022). Attitudes, habits, and behavior change. Annual Review of Psychology, 73, 327–352. http://repository.essex.ac.uk/30320/1/Attitudes%20and%20Habits_Final.09.05.2021.ARP.pdf