A lot of popular New Year’s Resolutions are centered around our physical health: losing weight, quitting smoking, and eating better. However, resolving to improve your mental health also makes for a good resolution says Eric Karbowski, community behavioral health educator with MSU Extension.
“The holidays can be a time for people to celebrate, but it’s oftentimes a very difficult time for people too,” he said. “Taking care of your mental and emotional health are just as important as your physical health. Taking care of your physical health can also improve your mental health.”
When we make physical transformations, it’s easy to track and witness those changes. With mental health, it might be a bit more difficult to see.
“[Create] a plan—what is your plan and what are your goals?” said Karbowski. “Documenting those things can be really rewarding. Saying, ‘What are some of the things I have accomplished?’ and maybe making a checklist so you can see some of that progress. You could do it for a short period of time, a year, whatever works for you.”
Typically this time of year brings parties and family gatherings. Because of COVID-19, more people might be feeling isolated. Between this seclusion and an overall lack of sunlight this time of year, Karbowski suggests tapping into what keeps you energized.
“A lot of times we’ll have this excitement at the beginning of the year, and then it drifts fast because we still have three more months of winter,” said Karbowski. “What are some of those things we can think about that we can keep our batteries charged and look forward to? What are some of those things we can control here? If you’re a religious person, it could be prayer or meditation.”
Karbowski added that focusing on the future can provide energy as well.
“Taking the time right now to maybe plan some things you have to look forward to,” he said. “Having things that get you excited or thinking about the future can get you through some of those things that are right here and now. Everybody knows 2020 was a difficult year in some capacity, but not dwelling on the past and looking forward to the future.”
If you find yourself struggling with your mental health, the Indiana Department of Family and Social Service Administration has resources.