New Year’s is a time for celebration, as well as reflection. While arbitrary for some, the start of a new year signifies an opportunity to think about how we want the next year to turn out and where we want to be in life. Many people create all sorts of New Year’s resolutions, such as a career change, starting a new hobby, learning an instrument or language, engaging in a personal project, or trying to kick bad habits and adopt healthier ones. When considering any New Year’s resolution, it’s important to think about the motivation behind the change– what do you want to get out of it?
One vital factor that many people don’t consider when making a New Year’s resolution is their mental health. Many of the changes we aim to make in the new year – such as following a new diet or getting involved in a sport – end up having a positive impact on our mental health. These changes can boost our mood and self-esteem, as well as reduce stress and anxiety.
But if mental health isn’t the driving factor in our New Year’s resolution, we will be less likely to take the resolution seriously. If we simply think of a new diet as something we should do, rather than something essential to our overall well-being, then we might be more tempted to give it up. Taking mental health seriously is a key factor in helping us form new habits.
There are many reasons why mental health should be the focus of your New Year’s resolutions. Here are some of the most important ones to keep in mind.
Your Mental Health Affects How Much You Enjoy Life
If your mental health is poor, you simply won’t be able to enjoy your day-to-day life as much as you would if you had good mental health. This seems obvious, but all too often we neglect our mental health and wonder why our life appears bleak, overwhelming, or unfulfilling. For example, if you are stressed, burnt out, depressed, or anxious, this can make you irritable or want to withdraw, affecting your relationships with others. Moreover, depression can zap your energy, motivation, and joy, making it difficult to do the things that would normally bring you pleasure.
Mental health should be part of your New Year’s resolution because how you feel on the inside can affect every aspect of your life and your ability to derive fulfillment from your activities.
Your Mental Health is Crucial for Self-Development
It’s commendable to have ambitious plans for one’s self-development. You may have certain goals relating to your career, personal projects, or hobbies. You might have worked on your self-awareness, realizing where your weak points lie and what your strengths are. And you may be determined to tackle your faults head-on, as well as put in the effort in building your strengths. But this focus on self-development requires good mental health as a solid foundation.
If you do not address depression or anxiety and the root causes of those mental health issues, then efforts to improve yourself will be frustrated. Without healthy levels of motivation, energy, self-esteem, self-confidence, social connection, and mental resilience, it will become a lot more difficult to achieve both your short-term and long-term goals. Indeed, working on your mental health and working on your self-development go hand in hand.
If You Deprioritize Your Mental Health, Bad Habits May Follow
Mental health issues can be emotionally painful experiences. Trauma, low self-esteem, anxiety, hopelessness, sadness, and shame can be difficult feelings to handle, and it is common that we will try to self-medicate in order to soothe our pain. Left unaddressed, mental health issues can lead to unhealthy or risky coping mechanisms, particularly addiction (such as addiction to drinking, drugs, junk food, gambling, porn, the internet, video games, or sex).
These addictions may provide temporary relief from pain and a boost in mood or self-esteem, but they are no replacement for positive mental health. Also, if you rely on these forms of self-medication, both your mental and physical health can worsen. Your mental health is intimately tied up with your physical health. If you deprioritize the former, your lifestyle and physical health can take a turn for the worse, leading to a whole host of issues in the long run, such as poor sleep, weight gain, social isolation, and chronic health conditions.
Focusing on your mental health should not be considered a luxury or something ‘soft’ or ‘snowflakey’. Maintaining good mental health is an essential aspect of our life satisfaction, personal development, and overall health. Ensure that you make it a priority in your New Year’s resolutions.