New Year’s Resolutions Promoting Mental Wellness in 2020

Practices to promote mental health.

Posted Dec 31, 2019

As we prepare for the next decade, it’s a perfect time to reflect on your past experiences and to think about creating goals for the future. For many people, the beginning of the new year sparks the urge to redefine themselves or create new life goals. Often these New Year’s resolutions involve lifestyle changes such as health and fitness, personal development, or improving finances. According to the American Psychological Association, many individuals struggle to maintain staying on track with their goals through late January or February but then become frustrated.

Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
Source: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Life comes with ups and downs and making lifestyle changes are no different. In regards to mental health and wellness, you must make a consistent effort to monitor your progress and keep modifying your habits until you reach your ultimate goal. Below are a few practices that may help you on your journey into the next decade and beyond.

  • Remove negativity: Do not give energy or effort to people or things that stuck the life out of you. It will not help you feel good about yourself and may even get you off track from reaching your goals. If you are confronted with negativity, avoid letting it take you down. Find a close friend to talk to or receive support to reset after the negative experience. Keeping negativity in your life can lead to more stress and put you at risk for developing poor mental health.
  • Don’t "should" on yourself: As a psychologist, I have had experience providing therapy to individuals that often set rigid expectations about their life or beliefs that they “should” do things a certain way. When things don’t work on as desired, this can lead to feeling inadequate or sadness. Allow some room for flexibility in life and with your goals. It’s okay to set goals but don’t "should" on yourself.
  • Set realistic expectations: Do no go into a major lifestyle change with overly ambitious or unrealistic goals. This will only increase the chances of you failing. Although failure with an initial goal does not mean that you can’t reset and get on track, it is better to create reasonable goals. Create goals that will set you up for success. One way to do so is by making small goals that can lead to a bigger outcome. For example, if you want to reduce your anger it may help to work on developing new coping skills for when you feel angry (as opposed to saying you will stop angry outbursts immediately or not feel angry).
  • Celebrate yourself: As you embark on your journey of change, remember that it is important to reward yourself along the way. This will keep you encouraged and motivated throughout the process. If you’re working on healthy eating, one way to celebrate is to eat one of your favorite desserts or meals after reaching a goal. For some people, celebrating may involve spending time with friends, family, or important people in your life. Don’t forget the importance of self-care and alone time. It’s okay to use time for yourself as a reward for working towards a goal.

If you need help with managing goals or expectations, it may be helpful to meet with a licensed mental health professional or psychologist. Psychologists are specially trained to help you with modifying your behavior and can help identify signs of mental health challenges if your stress becoming difficult when making major life changes. You can search for your local psychological association’s website or other online resources to find providers in your area.

To learn more about mental health and locate resources, visit the links below:

American Psychological Association

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Institute of Mental Health

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Copyright 2019 Erlanger A. Turner, Ph.D.