With one year ending and another just beginning, many spend the first few days of January reflecting on the past 365 days and looking forward to the next. With that spirit in mind, we’ve rounded up eight out-of-the-box mental health resolutions to consider in 2021:
1) Limit Screen Time
There is so much technology at our fingertips. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant content and barrage of digital information. Studies have shown that the amount of time spent on our phones, tablets, and laptops can have a significant effect on our mental health. Increased screen time can contribute to the risk of experiencing anxiety, depression and even low self-esteem. This year, consider turning off unnecessary notifications, deleting apps that take up most of your screen time, or even creating “technology-free” times throughout the day or zones throughout your house.
2) Improve Your Sleep
High quality sleep improves both physical and mental health including the ability to exercise, eat well, handle stress, pay attention, build new memories, deal with tough emotions and interact with others. This year, develop a sleep/wake schedule, avoid late-night electronic use, optimize your sleep environment or start a relaxing bedtime ritual to optimize your sleep patterns.
3) Strategize Movement Mindfully
Physical activity is a great way to boost mood, cognition and self-esteem. If you want to commit to an exercise goal, think about what’s really stopped you from exercising routinely. Then, find alternatives that address those challenges. Too tired at the end of the day? Try scheduling your workouts in the morning. Too busy with kids? Make exercise a family activity. Bored? Try a new app!
4) Eat More of Your Favorite Healthy Foods
The benefits of good nutrition surpass maintaining a healthy body weight— positive attitudes about eating and mindful food choices support your brain, body and soul. This year, skip the diet and commit to enjoying more of the nutritious foods you love. Over time, little changes in the foods, drinks and ingredients you choose can have big health benefits.
5) Focus on the Present
Dwelling on your past or worrying too much about your future can be detrimental for your mental health. To focus on the present, try a new mindfulness strategy. Try recording your thoughts, feelings and experiences in a journal, reframing a negative thought, accepting a mistake and moving on or asking yourself, “What can I learn from this?”
6) Prioritize Your Happiness
It’s so easy to get caught up in helping the people around us that sometimes we forget to help ourselves as well. Set aside one day a week to do something that you enjoy and makes you feel at peace. Consider removing your watch, turning your phone or pager off and focusing on your immediate experience.
7) Be Kind to Yourself
Be conscientious about how you speak to yourself. Practicing positive self-talk can boost self-esteem, self-confidence boost and overall mood. Try repeating positive affirmations to help combat negative thoughts and remind your inner voice to be just as patient and kind as you would be towards others.
8) Get Comfortable Asking for Help
People are often afraid to ask for help, but learning how to ask for (and accept) help is perhaps one of the greatest skills you can develop. This year, feel empowered to ask for help by practicing concise and specific communication. There is no need to over-explain: simply describe what the task is, why it matters, and how the person you’re asking can contribute. Spend some time thinking about the friends, neighbors or family members in your life who you consider your “support team”, so when the time comes you know who you can lean on.