A new year is right around the corner, which means a new opportunity for change. This last year has been tough for everyone, with so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the unusual adjustment of staying home during a quarantine. Everyone seems to be ready to start over, which is why it’s a great idea to set some mental health goals for yourself.
Taking the time to do things such as finding a new hobby like diamond painting or learning how to integrate meditation into your daily life can help you get into a routine that reduces stress and anxiety while boosting your self-confidence and sense of motivation. Check out some of these top goals you can aim for this year.
1. Practice Self-Care
The phrase “self-care” can refer to a lot of things—your emotional well-being, your physical health—but in this context, we’re taking a more general approach. It can mean anything from a daily skincare routine to treating yourself with a shopping spree from time to time. Learn how to listen to your needs and take the steps to do what your body needs. Perhaps self-care for you could mean setting a more strict daily routine to keep you on task. Make a list of what you would like to accomplish, and determine your self-care routine from there.
2. Pick Up a New Hobby
Hobbies are a great way to relieve stress and give us something to look forward to. There are so many different hobbies to explore based on your own personal interests, from picking up a new sport like basketball to doing something artistic like diamond painting. Hobbies are so important because they generate a sense of accomplishment and productivity in relation to an activity that we enjoy just for the sake of doing it.
Some hobbies can improve physical health as well as mental health. Trying activities like meditation painting has been shown to greatly reduce feelings of stress while also helping to improve cognitive functions in adults. As we age, it’s important to continue trying new projects and activities, as it encourages our brain to create new neural pathways, strengthening our brains and our ability to retain memories.
3. Start Meditating Every Day
It’s not often that we have the opportunity in our day to simply turn off our thoughts and worries, but when you begin to explore the practice of meditation, you can learn methods to focus your concentration. This practice helps us to shake off the stress of the day by focusing on another thought—a mental picture, a repeated mantra, a guided scenario.
Meditation also teaches mindfulness, which elevates our sense of self-awareness that can help us in other aspects of life. If you’ve never tried meditating before, there are plenty of resources available to you, from meditation apps to YouTube videos that will walk you through exactly what to do. Try to make it a goal this year to meditate every morning or night to calm your mind and improve your focus.
4. Learn How to Set Boundaries
Boundaries are so important to our mental health. When you find yourself saying “yes” too often, you’re going to burn yourself out, causing greater levels of stress and anxiety. Becoming more in tune with your emotions will help you understand your own boundaries and learn how to express this to others. This can be applied from the workplace to your personal life.
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5. Get in Touch with Your Emotions
The inability to express our emotions can leave us feeling anxious, angry, confused and stressed, which is why it’s so important to develop your emotional intelligence and learn how to communicate with yourself and those around you.
If you’re aware that you struggle with expressing your emotions, try talking to your closest friend or family member and open up just a little bit at a time until you become more comfortable with sharing. If this seems like too big of a first step for you, then consider finding a therapist to talk to.
Therapy has become increasingly popular as more people recognize the benefits of exploring your thoughts, experiences and feelings. Additionally, therapy will help improve your communication skills, and, in turn, your ability to express your emotions, as well as provide insight into your life.
Figure out what your limits are and be direct with people, so that they know exactly what you need and what you are capable of doing. Practicing self-awareness can help with setting boundaries, as you are more aligned with how you feel and what you need.
6. Write in a Journal Every Day
If learning to express yourself and get in touch with your emotions is something you feel that you should work on this year, then writing in a daily journal should also be on your list. Journaling is a kind of self-therapy that allows you to express yourself, prioritize goals and concerns, as well as gain insight into experiences.
You should make an attempt to write in your journal every day—even if it’s just a short entry. Looking back on your entries can help you pick up on negative thought patterns or provide further insight into problems and how you choose to react to them.
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7. Cut Down Social Media Time
In today’s tech-savvy world, we’ve constantly surrounded by our gadgets. While they have made our lives easier in some ways, they have also impacted our mental health. Social media can ignite feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness, as it begs us to compare ourselves to others. This is something that everyone experiences, but the more that we practice self-awareness and build our confidence, the less this will impact us.
Cutting down on your social media time is one way to build more positive thinking habits, as well as learn how to recognize that comparisons are not helpful and we never truly know what is happening in someone’s life just based on their social media profile.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Start the year off right with a few attainable mental health goals to get yourself in a better headspace and keep you motivated all year long. Pick a few of these tips that you think are a priority to you and don’t beat yourself up if you’re not meeting all of your goals right away. After all, they are just goals, not rules.
Do your best to work towards your ultimate goal by implementing healthy habits such as writing in a journal, expressing your emotions, crafting with diamond painting, exercising—whatever is going to make you feel great and help you lead a healthier, happier life.
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