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Do you have the habit of making new year resolutions? With 2024 almost upon us, you may find yourself reflecting on the past year and figuring out what you want to achieve in the new year. In fact, the most popular resolutions typically revolve around self-improvement and fitness, with a focus on being better than we were the previous year.
While we don’t necessarily need to wait till the end of a year to work on ourselves, it’s normal to be drawn to the idea of a ‘fresh start’ in the new year. After all, there’s a reason why the saying ‘new year, new me’ persists in popular culture!
Rather than just focusing on physical health, we want to encourage everyone to place priority on their mental health in 2024 as well. Here are some tips on how to evaluate your current lifestyle, and what you can do to improve your mental health in the new year.
Reflecting on 2023
Before setting any new year resolutions, you should first look back on 2023. Taking stock of the year that’s just past helps you identify what went well and what could have gone better, enabling you to focus on what you want to work on in 2024.
Block out quiet time in your schedule, where you won’t be interrupted by work or any friends and family checking in on you. You could do this exercise at home or outside, at a nice cafe, even. The important thing is to make sure that the environment is comfortable for you, where you can be alone with your thoughts.
Celebrate your achievements
We often don’t congratulate ourselves enough for our success, as there’s a constant pressure to do better. Whether they’re big or small, personal or work-related, take a moment to celebrate everything that you’ve achieved in 2023.
List them down a piece of paper, so that you can see all the hard work you’ve done in the year. In the same list, write down what you’d learnt, such as any skills you’d picked up or friends you’d made along the journey.
Acknowledge your setbacks
Experiencing setbacks isn’t something that we need to shy away from. Failure and challenges are part of how we grow stronger and more resilient. Similar to how you’ve listed down your achievements, do the same for the challenges you had faced in 2023. Reflect on what had happened and ask yourself how have I grown from this experience? or how did I overcome this challenge in my life?
Identifying the challenges you’d faced – and perhaps, why these were challenges for you – can prove to be insightful into areas that you may want to work on in 2024.
Consider your relationships
The people we surround ourselves with can have a tremendous impact on our mental health. They hold the power to build up our confidence, boost our mood, provide encouragement and motivation, and reduce our stress.
Look at the relationships that you hold in your life, from romantic, to friendships, to familial; and reflect on whether anything needs to change in them. For example, when life gets busy, we may accidentally neglect our loved ones, and this can be a good reminder for us to spend more time with these friends in 2024. Conversely, if you realise that a relationship has had a negative effect on your mental health, you may want to consider drawing firmer boundaries with that individual in the new year.
Healthy Habits for Your Mental Health in 2024
Once you have a better evaluation of how 2023 went, you’ll know what you should be working on in 2024. Resolutions should be personal and unique to your experiences. Even so, we’re sharing a couple of healthy habits you can consider adopting, as they can help with your mental health. Tweak these to adapt them to your own goals and lifestyle habits too!
Set Realistic Goals
Of course, before setting any resolution, you need to be practical about what you can achieve. While goals are meant to be lofty and ambitious, they shouldn’t be unrealistic to the point of impossibility. Having a goal that you can’t see yourself achieving can have an inverse impact on your motivation, as it can be discouraging to continue working at a goal if you don’t see any progress towards it.
When you’re setting your goal, it would be good to also have a plan in mind. Take a moment to list out concrete steps that you’ll need to do in order to achieve your goal. This provides you with more structure, and something tangible that you can immediately start on; rather than just a lofty goal.
We may not like making mistakes, but it’s an inevitable part of life. To temper your frustrations at messing up, cultivate the grace to embrace imperfections in your life. By telling yourself it’s okay for things not to be perfect, you’ll reduce the amount of pressure on yourself to always be the best. Ironically, this may improve your performance, as your mind and body will be less stressed as well.
Allowing imperfections also creates a better environment for creativity and innovation to flourish. By giving yourself the permission to fail, you’ll be more likely to try something new. This can lead to novel discoveries about yourself, and help you grow more as a person.
Mindfulness is being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, without any judgement of yourself. It’s been linked to better mental health and moods, reduced stress levels, and even increased physical health conditions.
The most typical form of mindfulness practice is meditation. It can be hard to immediately jump into practice so start with something simple, such as the five senses exercise. Find some time at the start or end of every day to sit quietly and identify: five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, one thing you can taste. The more you practise mindfulness, the easier it’ll come to you over time.
Lastly, adopt a grateful attitude throughout your everyday life. This is much easier said than done – after all, who can be grateful when they’ve experienced a setback? However, practising gratitude shifts your mindset from the negative aspects of experiences to looking at the positives. This perspective change is powerful, and can reduce negative emotions around failure while also boosting our moods.
Most importantly, it cultivates a growth mindset, in which challenges become opportunities for us to learn and grow. This is key to us improving in all aspects of our lives.
Ready to make 2024 a great year for you? Working with a mental health professional can help you to organise your thoughts and get ready for the new year. Reach out to any of our therapists for support. We’re excited to work with you, and help you to achieve your goals and ambitions.
An experienced health & wellness writer, I am a story-teller at heart. For me, writing is a way of weaving together the little details that make our existence meaningful and significant into a beautiful, larger story.