Achieving Your New Year’s Resolutions Without Compromising Your Mental Health

New Year’s resolutions can be extremely productive and help provide the motivation needed to achieve certain goals. Whether short or long-term, setting specific goals is vital for our mental health and wellbeing. Goals can help to ensure our daily lives are aligned with our values and moral code, for example, by improving our relationships, learning a new skill, or challenging ourselves physically.

However, it’s important to set realistic and achievable goals and not set ourselves up to fail. If you tend to over commit or overachieve, try and consider breaking the resolution down into smaller, more manageable steps. Remember – keep resolutions SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and [within a] time frame).

Here are some recommendations:

Develop and nurture a healthy support network of friends/family.
Humans are social animals and naturally want to connect with others. Sharing our concerns and struggles with others who will simply listen and not pass judgement can be extremely therapeutic and is a great way to keep our mental health in check.

Undertake an activity that lifts your mood and makes you feel good.
Just 20 minutes of daily exercise can release feel-good endorphins to dramatically lift our mood and promote positive sleep patterns. It can also help increase resilience to mental health problems.

Learn a new skill.
Whether you stopped playing the piano as a child or have wanted to learn a new language for ages, set aside adequate ‘me-time’ to do something you love. Keeping your brain active with new challenges and activities can also help to take your mind off worries and concerns and keep things in perspective.

Reduce screen time.
Strong, happy and healthy individuals are those who are active, engaged in face-to-face social interaction and explore and participate in real-life situations and activities. The over-use of electronic devices can have serious repercussions on our mental health and negatively impact our confidence, self-esteem and general wellbeing. So, put time limits on screen-time, keep mealtimes phone-free and avoid using devices at least 60 minutes prior to bedtime.

Seek advice and support from a trained professional if you are struggling with your mental health.
Remove the stigma, if any exists, from your mind and recognize that any feelings of shame are part of the biology of depression. Remember, the mind and body are one, so treat them equally.

Article originally published in Harper’s Bazaar Arabia (edited for clarity and length)