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10 (realistic!) New Years Resolutions for better mental health in 2021

Many of us create New Year's resolutions to spark good habits. Did you know that about 80% of those resolutions will be abandoned by February? If improving your mental health is at the top of your list for improvements in 2021, here is a list of small, achievable tasks to benefit your mental health in this upcoming year:

If you are anxious...

-Try meditation. Meditation can help reduce stress levels, as it teaches you to slow your mind and body down and take a "pause." Even a brief meditation has health benefits - try Headspace or Calm to see for yourself!

- Keep a worry journal. Relieve yourself of your anxieties by writing them down in a journal. Once you have your list, assign a probability of how likely it is to happen, and then write down what you will do to cope with this if it does happen. Your worry journal is an emotional outlet which shows that you do have some control over our worries and the ability to cope.

If you are depressed...

-Practice gratitude. A simple gratitude is a quick and effective way to increase happiness. By jotting down a short list of things you are grateful for at the end of the day, you'll create a habit for yourself which can lead to feeling more positive emotions, stronger relationships, and greater resilience.

-Accomplish one thing per day. This can be anything from making a phone call you've procrastinated about, adding an extra 10 minutes to your workout routine, or brushing your teeth and changing our of your pajamas. You'll typically feel better after accomplishing things, even if they are small tasks.

If you struggle with sleep....

-Avoid napping. If you struggle with fatigue during the day, try to avoid taking naps to catch up on missed sleep - they can make it more difficult for you to maintain a consistent sleep schedule! If you must nap, keep it brief (20-30 minutes).

- Get a check up from your doctor. Common health conditions including allergies, asthma, arthritis, chronic pain, psoriasis and menopause can all keep you up at night. Heading to your doctor can help rule out any medical causes for your trouble sleeping.

If you are irritable...

- Practice kinder self-talk. How would you describe your inner voice? Does it narrative your day with critical and negative language? If so, this may be encouraging you to focus on mistakes, inconveniences, and judgements. Start paying attention to these thoughts, and reframe them in a kinder, more compassionate tone. For example "I'll never get through this project" can become "This is going to be a challenge for me, and I can reach out for help if I need it,"

- Monitor your caffeine intake. While caffeine can give you a needed daily perk, it can also cause jitters, irritability, and sleep problems. Try cutting back and see if it makes a difference!

If you feel you are lacking in purpose...

-Take up a challenge. Learning something new and challenging is a great way to re-engage with your interests and passions. Follow your curiosity - practice a foreign language, learn to make beer, or master a new software for work. You may find something that inspires you.

- Take a 30 day challenge. Take any hobby you used to love -journaling, photography, cooking - anything works - and commit to working on it daily for 30 days (even 5 minutes per day is fine). After 30 days, hopefully you will have reignited your interested and developed a new habit!

Small steps can have a big impact on your mental health! If you are struggling to address anxiety, depression, or other challenges, consider reaching out to a licensed therapist to discuss what you can do to start feeling better. Happy 2021!

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