It’s no secret that New Year’s Resolutions are hard to keep. In fact, according to a 2020 study, after 1 month, only about 64% of New Year’s Resolutions are kept. In a 2016 study, of the 41% of Americans who make New Years resolutions, by the end of the year only 9% feel they are successful in keeping them.
Many resolutions made are simply unrealistic. When setting resolutions, it’s important to take time to reflect on the change you wish to see and what you realistically can do it achieve that change. By taking smaller, more achievable steps towards your goals, there is a greater change that you will keep them.
This applies to all kinds of resolutions, including mental health. You can help manage your mental health symptoms by taking small steps every day. These self-care strategies can assist in setting realistic New Year’s resolutions for your mental health.
Simple New Year’s resolutions that can truly make a difference:
- Set aside time for self-care. Brainstorm a list of self-care activities that make you happy and schedule them as part of your daily routine. This could range from structured therapy sessions, daily exercise, a simply outdoor walk or time with loved ones.
- Be kind to yourself. Change can be hard and often takes time. Allow yourself to have feelings and forgive yourself for mistakes.
- Make sleep a priority. Mental health and sleep have been found to be connected. In fact, approximately 65 – 90% of people with major depression also experience a sleep problem or disorder. In the new year, try to go to sleep a little bit earlier each night, giving your body the rest it needs.
- Limit your screen time. Spending too much time on your phone or computer can impact your quality of sleep, your relationships and even lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. Be conscious of how much time you’re spending in front of a screen and the impact it’s having on your mental health. If you notice there are issues, adjust your habits and see if you notice the difference.
- Learn more about mental health. One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to simply understand it. There are many online resources that provide common mental health information.
- Eat more whole foods. The easiest and most sustainable ways to improve overall health is to eat more whole foods including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fish.
- Sit less and move more. Make a resolution to go for a 15-minute walk at lunch or to get up and walk for 5 minutes every hour.
- Cut back on sweetened beverages. Sugary drinks are linked to an increased risk of obesity, fatty liver, heart disease, insulin resistance, and cavities in both children and adults.
- Find a physical activity that you enjoy. Taking a half-hour walk, job, or bike ride before work, or swimming at a gym that’s on your way home, are simple and sustainable exercise resolutions that you can make into a lasting routine.
- Cook more meals at home. Adults who eat 5 or more home-cooked meals per week are 28% less likely to be overweight, compared with those who eat fewer than 3.
- Spend more time outside. Spending time outdoors can improve health by relieving stress, elevating mood, and even lowing blood pressure.
- Try Meditation. Meditation is an evidence-based way to promote mental well-being, especially for people with anxiety or depression.
- Rely less on convenience food. Convenience food, such as packaged chips, cookies, frozen dinners, fast food, for a quick meal or snack may be readily available but can have detrimental effects on your health if eaten too often.
- Go grocery shopping regularly. Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge is necessary to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals.
- Use healthier household products. Purchasing natural beauty products, household cleaners, laundry detergents, and personal care products can help create a healthier environment for yourself and family.
- Cut back on alcohol. Drinking alcohol frequently may keep you from attaining health and wellness goals. Replace your usual cocktail with fruit-infused sparkling water.
- Be more present. Spending less time on your phone and listening to others are simple ways to be more present.
- Take a vacation. Whether you travel to a new area or simply plan a staycation at home, taking time for rest and relaxation is important for health.
- Try a new hobby. Partaking in a hobby that you enjoy can help you live longer and healthier.
- Stop negative body talk. Body shame feelings are associated with higher levels of body dissatisfaction and decreased self-esteem.
- Visit your doctor. Annual health exams are important for a number of reasons. Having regular blood work and necessary screenings can help spot potential problems before they turn into something more serious.
- Take care of your teeth. In addition to regular brushing and flossing, dentists recommend a checkup and cleaning at least once a year to prevent oral conditions like gum disease.
- Create a sustainable, nourishing diet. Instead of following a fad diet this year, make a resolution to break the dieting cycle and create an eating pattern that works for you, full of whole, nutrient-dense foods and low in heavily processed products.