A new year often gets us thinking about resolutions and setting new goals. The turn of the calendar feels like a new beginning—and new beginnings feel inspiring. In those first few days of a new year, it can seem like most anything is possible, and so we indulge our imaginations thinking up things we could accomplish this year if we had enough resolve.
For many of us, however, we quickly discover that we really don’t have enough resolve to, say, stick with an ambitious new exercise program or radically change our diet for the better or finally get around to reading the complete works of Agatha Christie.
You might have noticed something about those three potential resolutions we just listed. We used words like “ambitious” and “radically” and “complete”—words that strongly suggest that the proposed resolutions might be a bit too…well…ambitious.
If you want to be able to stick to your resolutions, it can help to start small and work your way toward bigger goals. For example, you could decide to add some exercise to each day, to replace one daily snack with something healthier, and to read, say, Christie’s first Hercule Poirot novel (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) and her first Miss Marple novel (The Murder at the Vicarage) to see which detective you prefer spending time with.
This principle applies to resolutions related to your mental health as well. Let’s consider a few manageable but potentially powerful changes you could make to boost your mental well-being in the new year.
Resolution One: Reflect on Your Day with Gratitude
Whether you think of it as counting your blessings or looking for the silver lining or looking on the bright side of things, there is value in reflecting on each day and noting things you are thankful for. Pausing to identify just three good things each day—whether you record them in a gratitude journal or simply take a few moments to call them to mind—can give your mental health a boost.
Does identifying three positive things each day seem like too much? No problem. Start with a commitment to identifying one positive thing for which you are thankful each day. You might set a reminder in your calendar so that you pause for just a moment to reflect on something good in your life. Soon enough, you will likely find yourself thinking of more than one blessing each time you stop to reflect.
Resolution Two: Reduce Your Daily Dose of Screen Time
You will notice that we are suggesting you reduce your screen time—not necessarily that you eliminate it altogether. Take social media, for example. There is a big difference between using Facebook as a way to keep up with friends and family and using it to doomscroll or engage with political content. Perhaps you could resolve to close your social media app each time you catch yourself scrolling mindlessly.
Alternately, you might consider setting a time each evening when you will power down your devices. Screen time close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep—and getting less quality sleep can lead to a downturn in your mental health.
Resolution Three: Rid Your Desk of Accumulated Clutter
It can be hard to keep everything neat and tidy all of the time. But there are mental health benefits to maintaining a sense of order in your immediate environment, so you might resolve to spend a few moments each day (or even once a week) straightening up your desk, or your bedside table, or the kitchen counter.
A reduction in clutter can lead to a reduction in stress—and that is definitely a good thing for your mental health. Straightening up a small area can even be a good way to get yourself restarted when you seem to stall out due to the length of your to-do list. Accomplishing a small but meaningful bit of cleaning is an easy win that can help clear your mind before you jump into the next task on your list.
Small Resolutions Can Add Up to Big Results
At Peak View Behavioral Health in Colorado Springs, we know that improving your mental health can involve making lots of little changes that can add up to big gains. That is why we are wholly devoted to personalized treatment of mental health disorders including the various kinds of depression, anxiety and panic disorders, and disorders that have resulted from traumatic experiences. If developing and maintaining better mental health is one of your resolutions for the new year, we can help.