The start of the new year often brings forth resolutions and change. People frequently set ambitious goals that can be challenging to attain within their existing circumstances, leading them to abandon or break their resolutions within a month or two.
According to a poll designed by the American Psychiatric Association, 76% of Americans are headed into 2024 with a New Year’s resolution in mind. Typically, these goals revolve around physical health, financial stability, and pursuing new hobbies. But what about the importance of mental health in the new year?
Creating intentional goals for the new year can help foster a positive outlook and create change. Although the transition to 2024 won’t alter your circumstances or existing mental health challenges, it serves as a valuable checkpoint. This period offers an opportunity for self-reflection, allowing you to assess your progress throughout 2023.
When stepping into the new year, you can prioritize mental health by making simple changes to your daily routine. Whether it involves journaling once or twice a week, practicing breathwork, or opening up to someone about your mental health struggles and getting help, there are numerous ways to prioritize self-care and mental well-being as we enter 2024.
Around 28% of people surveyed in the APA poll said their 2024 resolution was focused on mental health. While it can be rewarding to set mental health goals, it can also be discouraging if they don’t go as planned. That’s why it’s important for individuals to tailor their goals and break them down into manageable pieces. Resolutions can often seem overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. For example, setting the intention to journal two times a week seems more realistic than claiming you journal every day in 2024.
When setting goals, remind yourself that setbacks are likely to happen and are part of the process. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration suggests that people focus on progress over perfection. It’s important to give yourself credit when you make steps in the right direction. Behavioral changes are difficult and moving toward a healthier and more fulfilled life should be celebrated. Practicing self-compassion and leaning on others for support is a good way to get back on track and achieve long-term goals.
Another way to make the most out of your yearly resolutions is to let go of comparison. In the age of social media, it’s easy to compare yourself and your progress to others. However, the goals you set should be focused on self-fulfillment and motivation. For example, you can start working toward your resolutions at different times during the year. Just because someone starts going to therapy on January 1 and you start going in March doesn’t mean that your progress is any less important.
Finally, it’s okay if you don’t have any set intentions, resolutions, or goals for the year. If you are proud of yourself for simply surviving 2023, that’s more than enough. There is a lot of pressure to change habits or behaviors at the start of a new year which can be daunting. If you are happy with where you are and who you are becoming, then there is no need for revolutionary change on January 1.
For those who want to make changes, but don’t know where to start, lean on others. Reach out for support and remember that it’s easier to accomplish things with a support system. It’s okay to adjust and evaluate your goals as the year goes on. Never give up on yourself. Your mental health matters and most importantly, you matter.
Wishing you all the best in 2024,
Everett, Anita. “New Year’s Resolutions: Building Good Mental Health Habits.” SAMHSA, 27 Dec. 2023, samhsa.gov/blog/new-years-resolution-building-good-mental-health-habits.
“Making a Mental Health New Year’s Resolution? One in Three Americans Are.” Psychiatry. Org,19 Dec. 2023, psychiatry.org/News-room/News-Releases/Making-a-Mental-Health-New-Year%E2%80%99s-Resolution-One-i.