Realistic Resolutions to Care for Your Mental Health in the New Year
Updated: Jan 26
Ah, the new year. There is a reason why the saying, “new year, new me,” is so famous as the holiday season winds down, and many of us are ready to return to our routines. As another year comes to a close, many of us can’t help but look forward to the feeling of having a clean slate that comes with a new year. Many people find themselves ready to hit the grind and finally pursue that dream life they have been talking about for far too long.
Some of us, however, end up setting unrealistic goals and resolutions that do little more than leave us feeling down and unmotivated the second we face a perceived failure. This can cause many to turn their back on their goals completely. This year, though, we are going to set realistic new year’s resolutions and crush them. To help you achieve this, I am going to talk you through some tips for keeping your resolutions and give you some ideas of realistic mental health goals that you can set to make 2023 your mentally healthiest year yet!
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1. The New Year Can Bring Along Some Mental Health Issues of its Own
Chapter 1.1. Seasonal Depression
Chapter 1.2. Stress and Anxiety
Chapter 1.3. Major Depressive Disorder
Chapter 2. Realistic Resolutions to Care for Your Mental Health in the New Year
Chapter 2.1. "I Will Finally Kick That Nicotine Habit"
Chapter 2.2. "I Will Cut Back on Screen Time"
Chapter 2.3. "I Will Learn and Consistently Practice Mindful Meditation"
Chapter 2.4. "I Will Begin to Practice Daily Gratitude"
Chapter 2.5. "I Will Create a Healthier Work/ Life Balance"
Chapter 2.6. "I Will Take Better Care of My Physical Health"
Chapter 2.7."I Will Find a Therapist That Fits My Needs and Goals"
Chapter 3. Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions This Year
The New Year Can Bring Along Some Mental Health Issues of its Own
When it comes to preparing to face a new year, we want to feel our healthiest. However, some people may find that the winter season tends to bring a few mental health issues of its own. If you find that every new year, you seem to struggle mentally, it is important to know that you are not alone. The cold winter months are not always full of the holiday glimmer many of us associate it with. The winter season tends to mean that we are outside less, have fewer hours of sunlight, and experience changes to our circadian rhythm. These adjustments to our daily lives can leave many struggling mentally, which is why certain mental health disorders tend to feel the most severe this time of year.
If you are experiencing some mental health challenges around this time of year, knowing when to talk to your doctor can help you find a solution, allowing you to feel happier and healthier. A few of the disorders many people face during the holiday season include:
1. Seasonal Depression
2. Stress and Anxiety
3. Major Depressive Disorder
Seasonal depression, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a form of depression that comes and goes with specific seasons. While some people may experience the depressive disorder around the spring and summer months, it is most commonly reported in the fall and winter. For most people, the symptoms of SAD appear around the fall and winter, only to fade during the spring and summer.
This form of seasonal depressional is known as winter onset seasonal affective disorder. It is typically caused by the shorter hours of sunlight we experience during this time of year. Treatments for the disorder can include light therapy, psychotherapy, and medications. The symptoms can include:
A loss of interest in things that typically bring you joy
Feeling down for a significant amount of your days
Experiencing low energy
Changes to sleeping and/ or eating patterns
Having suicidal thoughts or ideations
Stress and Anxiety
Some people find that the holiday season, especially the new year, comes with a significant amount of pressure. Because of this, they may find that they feel anxious and stressed far more than usual around this time of year. While stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, experiencing the feelings so intensely that it begins to impact your quality of living can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can often be treated with psychotherapy or medication. Some signs and symptoms that you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder include:
Constant feelings of being on edge, nervousness, or stress
Feeling like you are in danger for seemingly no reason
Increased heart rate and breathing (hyperventilation)
Struggling to concentrate on anything other than worrying
Struggling to sleep or eat
feeling the need to avoid your anxiety triggers
Major Depressive Disorder
The holiday season often comes with significant expectations. Those who are experiencing depression may find themselves feeling the most vulnerable during the holiday season as expectations are at their peak. Because of this, those experiencing a major depressive disorder may find that the holiday season often brings more severe symptoms of their mental health disorder. Major depressive disorder is a serious mood disorder that leaves one feeling low and unmotivated. It impacts how a person thinks, behaves, and feels. Major depressive disorder can be treated with psychotherapy or medication. Some symptoms include:
experiencing low moods for an extended period
a loss of interest in things that once brought joy
irritability, anger, or frustration
changes to eating and sleeping patterns
fatigue or a lack of energy
low self—esteem and negative self-talk
physical pains that cannot be explained otherwise
thoughts of death or suicide
If you believe that you may be experiencing a mental health disorder, talk to your doctor. They will be able to help you ensure there are no physical ailments causing your symptoms and get you the treatment you need to begin feeling happier and healthier as soon as possible.
Realistic Resolutions to Care for Your Mental Health in the New Year
Caring for your mental health is a crucial part of living your happiest and healthiest life. It can also help you keep up your motivation to crush more goals this new year. A few realistic goals to care for your mental health this year include:
#1 "I Will Finally Kick That Nicotine Habit"
#2 "I Will Cut Back on Screen Time"
#3 "I Will Learn and Consistently Practice Mindful Meditation"
#4 "I Will Begin to Practice Daily Gratitude"
#5 "I Will Create a Healthier Work/ Life Balance"
#6 "I Will Take Better Care of My Physical Health"
#7 "I Will Find a Therapist That Fits My Needs and Goals"
"I Will Finally Kick That Nicotine Habit"
Research suggests that those who use nicotine experience higher levels of anxiety and are at a higher risk of developing depression. While nicotine may allow for temporary stress relief, the long-term effects it has can do the exact opposite.
"I Will Cut Back on Screen Time"
Screen time has been associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders. This year, set a goal of cutting down your screen time. You can begin by keeping it down to four hours a day, then cut an hour off as you get more and more comfortable with each time.
"I Will Learn and Consistently Practice Mindful Meditation"
Research suggests the practice comes with benefits like stress relief, improved emotional health, greater cognitive well-being, higher levels of social health, sleep improvements, and physical health benefits. Setting simple goals like practicing mindful meditation for ten minutes every day and educating yourself on the relaxation technique are obtainable and greatly beneficial.
"I Will Begin to Practice Daily Gratitude"
Gratitude has been associated with improved relationships, better social and psychological health, increased empathy, better sleep, enhanced self-esteem, and superior mental strength and resiliency. Set a goal to begin a daily gratitude journal, say “thank you” more often, and practice more acts of kindness. These small goals can help you feel more grateful in your everyday life.
"I Will Create a Healthier Work/ Life Balance"
Burnout is a very real mental health condition being faced by millions in a world that has glamorized “the grind .”A life of all work and no play has been associated with poor mental and physical health. This year, set boundaries around your work life, like keeping work at work, prioritizing some time to wind down, and learning when to say “no” for your well-being.
"I Will Take Better Care of My Physical Health"
Mental health and physical health depend greatly on each other to thrive. Set small goals like:
exercising every day
eating nutritious and healthy foods
improving sleep hygiene
making time for self-care
getting outside more often
"I Will Find a Therapist That Fits My Needs and Goals"
Therapy can greatly benefit anyone! It can help those looking to improve their relationships and communication skills, overcome past traumas, manage their emotions, improve their confidence, become more aware of negative thinking patterns that are holding them back, organize their thoughts, and find a greater sense of purpose. Every therapist is different and finding the right therapist for you can take some trial and error, but it is well worth the effort. Make a resolution to find a therapist that fits your lifestyle, needs, and goals this year.
Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions This Year
It’s easy to set a new year’s resolution. Keeping it, on the other hand, can be quite a challenge. In order to actually keep your resolutions this year, there are a few things you must keep in mind:
Keep your goals realistic and specific, so you can keep track of your wins.
Create a game plan. Set up small goals and keep track of your progress as the year progresses.
Find an accountability partner.
Don’t forget to reward yourself for small victories.
It’s okay to start over if you fall off track or need to adjust your goals according to what you learn.
Following through on your resolutions can be great! It’s also important to remember that it’s okay if you change your mind about your resolutions, fall off track for a bit, or don’t set any resolutions at all. Don’t put too much pressure on the new year. Happy 2023!
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