Resolving to take care of our mental health is just as important. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year.
“It’s increasingly important that we consider our mental health,” says Dr. Lauren Butler, clinical psychologist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital. “We are living in a social media-influenced world and it can be easy to mentally compare ourselves to everyone else’s life and fall into the rabbit hole of ‘I should be able to do this,’ and ‘I should be able to do it perfectly like everyone else.’”
To successfully fulfill resolutions, Butler suggests setting goals that are SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-limited — to increase effectiveness and fuel a sense of accomplishment.
She offers the following five ways to take care of our mental health:
- Practice self-compassion.
Take time each day to do something for yourself, such as writing down three accomplishments before bed or catching negative thoughts and challenging them.
- Balance self-care.
Set a goal in different aspects of your life — such as relaxation, pleasure, exercise and socialization — to take care of yourself in a more effective way. Incorporating structure and balance can decrease negative emotions, as well as increase motivation for action.
- Accumulate positive experiences.
Make it a habit to achieve one positive experience a day that inspires calm, neutral or positive emotions. By having positive experiences every day, you increase emotional resilience and decrease emotional sensitivity to everyday life stressors.
- Cultivate gratitude.
Before you go to sleep, write down three things you are thankful for and reflect on them the next morning. Cultivating gratitude helps decrease emotional intensity and make meaning of our experiences.
- Take care of your physical and mental health.
Commit to yourself and to your physical and mental health by setting appointments and following through with them. This is a great resolution to set for anyone who avoids making or going to physical or mental health appointments. Plus, when we make ourselves and our health a priority, we can improve overall wellness and decrease emotional vulnerability.
“The reality is, we need to take the time to meet ourselves where we are, especially if we are already struggling with other life stressors,” says Dr. Butler.