Let's face it. Every year we all come up with new year resolutions that aim to better ourselves in one way or another. Some common resolutions are to lose weight or work out more, to start eating healthier, to be more organized, or to start a new project we've been wanting to - like going back to school, or starting a new career. While all these are wonderful resolutions and actually do assist you in bettering yourself and your life, they don't necessarily focus on your core. What do we mean by that? Well, before you can start tackling resolutions like that, maybe you should focus on yourself, as an individual, helping to strengthen your core (your inner self). A big part of your inner self is tied to your mental health. Today, we'll jump into a few resolutions you can add to your list that focus on YOU.
One of the biggest ways to improve your mental health is to practice gratitude. We can all
admit how difficult of a year 2020 was. Some had to battle extreme hardships, while some had a lighter form of troubling issues. But, instead of reflecting back and saying what a bad year it was, or all the bad things that happened, what we can do instead is focus on the good things that happened, or the good things that remained in our lives. Practicing
gratitude can decrease stress, depression, and even anxiety. In turn, practicing gratitude can improve relationships amongst people and even lead to a healthier you in physical terms. When someone is grateful for what they have in life, they find themselves enjoying their lives more. So maybe instead of constantly having a resolution like "go to the gym more often", your resolution can be "practice gratitude more often". Who knows, maybe with all the grateful feelings, you'll end up actually WANTING to go to the gym more, and not going because you feel you have to.
Another way to improve your mental health and keep yourself happier is to simply prioritize your happiness. Something that brings you joy can be completely different from what someone else might consider to be joyful. For example, a mother of four might find joy in taking a quiet bath at the end of a long day. A career-driven bachelor might find joy in sleeping in half an hour more during the weekend. A student in college might find joy in having a study session with a friend versus studying alone. Everyone's idea of joy is different. The common thing here is prioritizing that difference. By focusing on doing what brings you joy, you can remind yourself how much fun life can be - even if it means you're doing something as simple as listening to your favorite song as you cook your dinner. By doing small, joyful things every day, you can help yourself look forward to the next day. This can improve your mental health and give you more clarity when you wake up each day.
Be kinder - not just to others but to yourself as well. This ties into prioritizing joy. Now, you're probably thinking how being kind ties into joy, but there have been proven benefits linked to feeling happier after doing good deeds or being kinder. Say you are on your way to work and you are about to enter the freeway. You see someone standing at the side of the road asking the cars ahead of you for food. You look at the seat next to you and see your lunchbox. You know you had packed an apple and an oatmeal bar along with your lunch today. You can just ignore the person and go on with your day. But, chances are you will feel a sense of guilt by ignoring someone who was hungry. Say you were to open your window and hand the person the apple from your lunchbox. Yes, you'll have one less snack today, but knowing you helped someone who was hungry will make you feel better about yourself and you can go about your day feeling a sense of joy and improving your mental health.
Now, this is just merely an example to help you see what helping others can lead to. But, apart from helping others and being kinder to others, you also need to practice being kinder to yourself. All of us have a voice in our heads. This voice reacts to a lot of things we see and do throughout our days. This voice is also usually louder than our own. Maybe this voice inside is a critical voice that thinks negatively, is quick to judge, or discourages yourself. This is not a good habit and can lead to a lot of stress. Why focus on what you constantly need to improve and focus on what is already going well and what you can do to keep something going well. Why constantly put yourself down every time you make a mistake? You ARE human, right? We've all been there - "I'm so stupid, I can't believe I did that". Instead of saying something like this, take a moment and reflect. Yes, you made a mistake that you probably shouldn't have. But, you are human and prone to making mistakes. You just need to be more careful next time and avoid making the same mistake. You can learn from this mistake. By reflecting, the voice inside you might now say, "I made a mistake that I know I will learn from." Maybe something like "I can't do this" can turn into something like "all I can do is my best." Maybe "I'm never going to get this" can turn into "I just need some more time." By being kinder to yourself, you can improve your mental health and gain a supportive friend in the voice you hear versus a critical, discouraging voice.
One other way you can improve your mental health is to practice saying no. Our time, our energy, and our days are very valuable. With this, keep in mind that specific things can consume your valuable time or energy. What you prioritize your time and energy on matters. Spending time doing certain activities, seeing certain people, or completing certain interests can make a huge difference in your day. If at the moment you don't have time for or interest in a specific thing, you can say "no" to it. This does not make you rude. This just helps you prioritize what is more important to you. For example, if your coworkers want to go grab a drink after a long day at work but you were looking forward to spending some quality time with your wife and kids, then it is ok to decline the offer. You are not obligated to say yes, and by saying no, you are not being rude to your coworkers. As long as you express yourself in a kind way, you can say no to going out. You can even ask for a rain check and join your coworkers on the next outing they have. If spending some quality time at home is going to make you more happy, then do not be afraid to do it. In this specific example, saying no ties into prioritizing your happiness; and this in turn ties into keeping you happier mentally.
Whether or not you already had your new year resolutions set, there is no harm in adding some extra resolutions that focus on bettering yourself and your mental health!
If you have any questions regarding any of the aforementioned topics, or need someone to talk to regarding any mental stressors, feel free to contact Dr. Movsesyan Therapy Services. Dr. Movsesyan is a clinical psychologist who carries out one-on-one therapy sessions as well as offers teletherapy sessions for his clients. If driving out to your therapy session is not something you look forward to, and you find that having a therapy session from the comfort of your own home brings your more joy, well, then prioritize the joy and book an online therapy session today!
Dr. Movsesyan Therapy Services
1201 S Victory Blvd #206
Burbank, CA 91502