Here are some New Year's Resolutions that Won't Hurt Your Self-Esteem, Break the Bank, or Fuel and Eating Disorder
Why do we believe in 'New Year's Resolutions' for a mental health reset?
Living in the United States, it is well-known that our cultural values are highly centered on attaining accomplishments, whether it be climbing corporate ladders, getting degrees to put on our wall, or making a certain amount of money each year. Living in this type of culture, we tend to internalize over time that our worth and value as a human being is centered on the 'what's' that we can DO versus who we really are. We live in a culture of 'doing' versus 'being,' which means we miss the mark on being connected to our bodies, ourselves and others and live to check things off a list. There's comfort and ease in the structure of a 'doing' mindset, but it is also a great way to blink and realize you missed living your life! Keeping our mental health at the forefront is a beautiful way to try to go into to any day, month, or year. We are living in a mental health crisis from the pressures and overwhelm of our 'doing' culture, as well as the incredible stress many people feel from the general state of the world today. There is no time like the present to keep ourselves on the priority list and to know this is the only way we can be productive or helpful to anyone else.
What are some New Year's Resolutions that can actually HELP your mental health in 2024?
1. keep a gratitude jar or journal - Every day make a commitment to writing down at least 5 things you are grateful for. The key is they must be very specific to the day. There is science behind this in that it helps create pathways in our brain for seeing the good that exists around us, while simultaneously making us 'less good' at seeing the pessimistic views. It is called the Tetris effect and came make a huge difference in one's life.
2. Write in "You time" into your schedule everyday - It can be 10 min twice a day that you do this. The key here is writing it into your schedule means it cannot be canceled and it is seen as 'just as productive' as any other business appt you have in the day. During this time, make a commitment to 'doing vs being.' Go on a gentle walk outside, put away your phone, do some stretches, or close your eyes and do a quick guided meditation. There is absolute science behind this and these are called 'grounding techniques.' You will be so much more productive in your rest of day when you carve time for just you.
3. "Pay it forward" once a week or once a month - There is absolutely nothing like the feeling we can get by doing something nice for someone. I do this in my practice myself both in my business and personal life. We all have something special and unique to give the world and it makes us feel really good about life and ourselves. It can be paying for the person's coffee behind you that's next in line at the drive through, or in my business we do pro bono psychological assessments to families in need; it can also just be committing to telling five people a personalized complement once a week. It forces us to see the good in ourselves and in others and can again shape oru world view.
4. Write a life plan and create a vision board- this is another one that can be really fun at any point in your life. A couple can do it together for their next year, a group of high school seniors can do this as they prep for college together, or an individual can do this in to prepare for their career over teh next year. Get very specific and create a vision board that really helps you to get detailed about what you want. Again, there is science behind this - it might feel silly to start but you are actually priming your brain to start to do specific things that are going to make your goals more possible. It can be super fun at the end of the year to take this out and see how much came true! It's all about priming your brain pathways to see the world in a healthier way and is called 'the confirmation bias.'
What can you do if you find yourself declining despite trying to improve your mental health in 2024?
Listen - sometimes you do everything you can and you're just too far in a hole to get yourself out. That doesn't mean you're weak or 'undisciplined.' Try reaching out to a psychologist or therapist who can help you to understand what's happening below the surface. It could be KML or someone else! We all need a coach in life and starting 2024 with one is a great first step to a new year, new you!
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