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Three Ways to Improve Your Mental Health in the New Year

A young woman sitting on the floor, holdling a notebook and pen.

A new year is a great time for a fresh start. But sparking positive change isn’t always easy, and we often fall back into old routines within a few weeks. 

So, whether you’re trying to exercise more, lose weight, save money, quit smoking or get organized, it may be time for new ways to think about self-improvement. In fact, maybe it’s time to say “no” to New Year’s resolutions altogether. Here are a few small changes that can make a big, long-term impact. 

1. Lose New Year’s Resolutions

Studies show that 80% of resolutions lead to disappointment by February. So, instead of setting resolutions, try setting intentions. This means replacing self-improvement goals with self-encouragement goals. Self-improvement can make us feel badly about ourselves, while self-encouragement let you lean into the life you want to create. 

To feel your best, shine a light on the wonderful things that make you who you are. That means paying attention to your physical and mental health, financial well-being, creative needs, spirituality and social connections. Set SMART intentions with specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-specific goals.

2. Bring Intentions to Life

  • See something new right in front of you. Try to see everyday things through new eyes that wake up your senses. “My intention is to see my life with new eyes and new inspiration.”
  • Learn something new. Try a new recipe. Read something about an unfamiliar topic. Talk to someone new. “My intention is to learn something new each day.”
  • Make a different choice. When you’re faced with a decision, ask, ‘what do I usually do?’ and then do something different. “My intention is to make a different choice to break old habits.”
  • Kick it up a notch. Walk, stretch, dance. Find ways to move your body and notice how it feels when you do. “My intention is to give my body the gift of movement.”
  • Lose one thing. Changing everything at once can be overwhelming, but letting go of one habit, food choice or behavior can lead to success. “My intention is to release one thing today.”

3. Adopt Positive Self-Talk

Our thoughts have a powerful impact on our mental health. Negative self-talk, all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralizing and catastrophizing are known as cognitive distortions. We all experience these extreme thoughts, and we can learn to change them.  

Notice when you make a self-deprecating comment or tell yourself ‘I never win’ or ‘I have the worst luck.’ Then challenge it by looking for a more reasonable way to think about it. We can change our thinking patterns by challenging everyday thoughts, showing compassion for ourselves, staying positive about life and surrounding ourselves with people who are supportive, encouraging and want the best for us.

woman smiling on a walk

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