3 Effective Resolutions To Prioritize Your Mental Health in 2024

New Year’s resolutions always have a way to make you feel you aren’t doing enough. Even if you start on the first of the new year intending to follow through, by February or even March, they are just a distant memory. Part of this is because you don’t have a clear, measurable goal to help keep you accountable. The other element is that you haven’t defined why you are implementing the change. First, let’s review how to make a resolution that will stick. Then, we’ve got a list of effective resolutions to make your mental wellness a priority in 2024.

Making SMART Resolutions

Rethinking your resolution to be SMART allows you to have clear, attainable, and meaningful goals that you can focus on to be successful in your mental wellness plan. So what makes them SMART?

Specific: What are you aiming to accomplish? What actions will you take to do this?

Measurable: How will you measure your progress? By how much or how well?

Achievable: Can you hit your target? Do you have the skills or resources you need?

Relevant: How does this goal align with your overall plan?

Time-Bound: What is the time frame for accomplishing your goal? Remember, it should be achievable.

Making your resolution relevant lets you define why you want to implement the change. Think of this as your mantra you repeat to yourself when it gets hard, or you feel like skipping a day or giving up. For example, you want to start talk therapy in 2024. Great! Your mantra could be, “I am doing this to be a calmer and better parent for my children.” Here’s how you can make your goal of starting therapy SMART:

Specific: I want to start talk therapy to improve my overall well-being.

Measurable: I will attend at least one talk therapy session per month for the next six months.

Achievable: I have seen my primary doctor for a referral and have a list of therapists I can schedule with. I will call to see which has availability that aligns with my schedule. Insurance will cover therapy, so I have the financial means, time, and transportation to attend sessions.

Relevant: My anxiety, depression, or other reason for therapy is hindering my ability to be fully present and enjoy the time with my children. I am irritable and stressed with them instead of being happy, so I want to learn to manage my stress to improve my relationships and enhance my overall quality of life.

Time-Bound: I want to have my first therapy session by January 31, and I will continue attending monthly sessions for the next six months with reviews of my progress at that point.

Now that you know how to make clear, attainable resolutions, here’s a list of three resolutions for your mental health that you can make this year:

1. Reduce Screen Time

Excessive screen time, especially mindlessly scrolling on social media, can contribute to stress, anxiety, and overall unhappiness with our own lives. By resolving to reduce your screen time even just in the hour after waking and before going to sleep, you can improve your sleep quality and daily mental well-being by cutting out excessive digital exposure.

2. Prioritize Self-Care

Let’s be clear that self-care isn’t just about taking a shower or having a beauty treatment. It’s about consciously doing things to improve your mental and physical health. Resolutions that could fall into prioritizing self-care could be:

  • Sleeping More: Getting enough sleep helps our bodies and minds recuperate, improving our alertness, energy levels, and mood for the following day. When you get enough sleep, your mood will soar.
  • Eating Healthier, Hydrating More, or Exercising: Focusing on your physical health will also support your mental health. These habits can positively impact your mood and reduce your risk of future mental health issues.
  • Reducing Substance Use: This could be alcohol, caffeine, or even sugar intake. Cutting back or removing them is a quick way to improve your mental well-being.
  • Setting Boundaries: Setting and maintaining boundaries safeguards your mental health. Learn to communicate your boundaries clearly with others and say no when necessary. You will be amazed at the mental and emotional energy you will save.
  • Seeking Professional Help: If you do think you are dealing with a more serious issue like recurrent depression or anxiety, consider mental health services in Bellingham, Washington, to find clinical depression treatments or anxiety interventions near you.

3. Reduce Stress

While we’ve all seen funny videos of a parent “reducing” stress in their lives by getting rid of their pets, kids, and partners, that’s unrealistic. Look at your life and see what you can cut out to reduce stress. One less activity for your kids? Is your house physically cluttered? Take time to clean out and start fresh.

Reducing stress can also be less physical and more mental work. You may need to practice self-compassion to reduce your overall stress load. Are you a perfectionist? Do you have internal negative self-talk when you make a mistake? Use the measurement, “Would I say this to my best friend or even my child?” If the answer is no, you need to give yourself a break and stop saying it to yourself.

Practicing mindfulness and gratitude is another method of reducing stress and improving happiness. While he is talking about this in the realm of career fulfillment, psychologist Shawn Achor’s TED Talk hits the key points of why gratitude and mindfulness improve your mood and happiness in just a few short weeks.

You have a list of premade resolutions to support your mental (and physical) wellness and the method to make them easy to achieve. All you have to do is choose one, make it SMART, and watch how far you can take it through the new year. Even the littlest change can have the biggest impact on your mood. And when it gets tough, repeat your mantra to yourself. You’ve got this!