When you hear the phrase ‘New Year’s resolutions’ you probably think of gym memberships, vegetables, or travel. We tend to focus on improving the physical and visible aspects of our lives, when often it’s our mental health that could use a bit of TLC.
“Looking after yourself is absolutely the essence of life. If you’re not looking after yourself, then everything in life becomes difficult,” says Steph Allen, Principal Clinical Psychologist at Life and Mind Psychology.
So in 2016, why not embrace some strategies that’ll help you keep your wellbeing in check? The term ‘resolution’ can be a little loaded; instead, psychologists say the key to setting achievable, sustainable goals is being SMART: Specific, Meaningful, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-bound.
Here are nine SMART mental health-oriented strategies you can integrate into your life this year.
1. Swap self-criticism for self-compassion
According to Tal Schlosser, Clinical Psychologist at My Life Psychologists, talking to yourself critically is “like kicking yourself when you’re down.” A more effective way to motivate yourself is to cultivate self-compassion, especially when faced with your so-called ‘failings’.
“Treat yourself with the same care that you would a good friend, with kindness, gentleness, empathy, respect and understanding,” Schlosser explains.
“Self-compassion has been shown to be strongly related to mental wellbeing, happiness, increased motivation, making healthier life choices and having better interpersonal relationships, as well as lower levels of depression and anxiety.”
2. Manage your worry
"Worry can have such a big impact on our lives if we don't know how to manage it," Steph Allen says.
The good news? There's a simple, effective way you can achieve this. "Notice the worry when it arrives, let it go — you could imagine the worry floating down a stream — then focus your attention on whatever you were doing when the worry arrived," Allen suggests.
Watch: Meghan Kelly on the importance of good self-esteem. (Post continues after video.)