It’s that time of year again, when many of us begin thinking about our resolutions and goals for the upcoming calendar year. And lots of us have mental health on our minds: According to the American Psychiatric Association, approximately three in 10 Americans plan to make New Year’s resolutions specifically related to their mental health, whether it’s to exercise more often, meditate more frequently, begin seeing a therapist, start a journaling practice, or take a break from social media use.
New Year’s resolutions can be a great opportunity to go into the post-holiday season ready for positive change, but it’s important to be mindful when setting your goals. If you choose a resolution that’s especially difficult to achieve or isn’t fully in your control, you run the risk of disappointing yourself and feeling down as you go into the new year. There’s a reason why nearly half of people who make New Year’s resolutions break them by the end of January!
To avoid this — and to bring a positive, mental health-oriented approach to your New Year’s resolutions — we suggest using the Keep, Transform, Eliminate practice to set realistic and achievable goals for 2024.
Before you begin, take a moment to reflect on the past year. Identify some of the highs and lows, stressors and challenges, and moments of achievement and personal growth. It’s important to recognize how far you’ve already come and what you’ve already accomplished before setting new resolutions! You’re then ready to Keep, Transform, Eliminate.
Write down the things you did this past year that you loved, that made you feel good, that you want to continue doing in the new year. Maybe you did a great job of getting a good night’s sleep every day, of taking a daily walk around the neighborhood during your lunch break to get your body moving, or of keeping regular visits with your therapist.
Brainstorm some new ideas for things you can start doing in the new year, or things you can change from the year prior. Maybe you found yourself retreating and isolating yourself during times of stress and want to commit to reaching out to loved ones for support instead. Maybe you’re ready to improve your mental health by asking your doctor about treatment options.
Write down the things you want to stop doing in the new year — things that aren’t supporting your mental health goals and journey. This could mean stepping back from a toxic relationship, cutting back on alcohol consumption, or limiting the time you spend on social media apps.
The best New Year’s resolution for you will be one that falls under at least one of these three categories. Our tip? Don’t go overboard by picking a dozen different goals. Life gets busy, and you’re better off choosing just one thing that’s realistic and achievable. And don’t worry if you experience setbacks along the way! Flexibility and adaptability are key in keeping your resolution. Sometimes we have to take a step backward in order to ultimately move forward.
We wish everyone a happy and healthy new year and hope 2024 is filled with mindfulness and continued mental health.