Everyone has different opinions about the New Year. Some people think it is a fresh start, a new chapter, a time to reflect on life. But others may find the new year hard, like a reminder of past failures or “just another day.” As 2016 starts, it’s no doubt that we will be inundated with people’s new resolutions for what the new year will bring. Too often, these resolutions are focused on things that can be unhelpful- or even harmful- to one’s mental health. So here are 10 resolutions for 2016 that have potential to help your mental health.
1. Make time for real self-care.
I’m not talking about the frilly self-care that is all over the internet (which is still important- do those things too!) I’m speaking to truly taking care of your whole being: getting enough sleep, fueling your body with food, drinking more water, going outside, taking your medication, whatever entails wellness for you.
2. Challenge negative thinking patterns.
Every day, our minds fall into mental traps. We catastrophize situations, we see things as black and white, we think we know what other people are thinking. Cognitive behavior therapy aims to change these thought patterns in order to improve mental health. Learn more about different types of negative thought patterns and how to change them here.
3. Ask for help when I need it.
Sometimes, we forget that it’s okay to ask for help. Even Stigma Fighters, who are advocating for mental health and showing others the pathways to help, may avoid reaching out when they are struggling. It’s important to remember that everyone deserves the help and support they need- including you.
4. Be more mindful and present in life.
Life can rush past us- especially these days with all the technology surrounding us. We sit on our phones when we’re out to meals with friends and we watch tv shows while having a conversation with a family member. Mindfulness means paying attention to what you are doing in the current moment. It means showing up and actually interacting with what is around you, not just being there. When we are more present in life, we get more fulfilment out of our activities.
5. Be non-judgmental with myself.
It’s so easy to label ourselves with all sorts of things: failure, loser, not good enough, etc. Being non-judgmental with yourself is letting yourself be who you are and not judging yourself when you mess up (which you will.) It means being less self-deprecating and more self-loving and accepting. We often give more kindness to others than we do to ourselves, so this year be gentle with you.
6. Spend time with people who matter most to me.
Time management is hard, but this year try to make room for the people who really deserve to be there. Toxic relationships harm our mental health more than we can see and damages our view of what a healthy relationship should look like. Invest your energy into the people who invest it right back into you. The relationships in your life should be mutual, not one-sided.
7. Allow myself to feel all emotions.
People tend to set goals like “be happy!” or “always be positive!” While it is great to think big and optimistically, it’s also important to recognize that happiness is a feeling, not a state of being. No one is happy all the time! Life happens, things get in the way, and the happiness will come and go. This focus on happiness can make it seem like all other emotions are bad- which they’re not! Mental wellness means being able to feel ALL the feels- not just the pretty ones. Don’t beat yourself up over a bad day and don’t set yourself up for disappointment when happiness subsides. Accept that emotions are a part of life and feel those feels!
8. Take a break when I need rest.
Stigma Fighters do hard work. You are constantly surrounded by so many stories of pain and loss that the hope can fade away sometimes. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed (whether it be work or school or advocacy or whatever), set things aside and take the time you need to get yourself back on track. If you run yourself into the ground, it’s much harder to dig back up. Stop before it gets there, take a break when you feel it coming so you can ready yourself to take things on again.
9. Start where I am with what I have.
Comparing yourself to others is probably one of the worst things you can do to your self esteem and self worth. There’s always going to be someone better than you or worse than you, so what is the point? Exactly, there isn’t one. You are a unique human being with your own life path- past, present, and future. Use the tools and resources you have in and around you and work from there. Don’t look at other people’s lives as a means of comparison, but as an inspiration to your own journey.
10. Stay alive.
If you take anything away at all, let it be this. This is truly the only essential thing on this list, because without it, there is nothing. Your life is so worthy of living, and we can’t wait to see where you go. 2016 will be a victory, even if all you did was breathe.