I might be in the minority on this one, but as I’ve gotten older, New Year’s Eve has become one of my favorite holidays.
I am a lover of fresh starts – an empty journal, a big move, a new career – and I thrive on this feeling of possibility. There is nothing quite like the year turning over, and with it, the promise of good things to come.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always taken the New Year as an opportunity to reflect. With that reflection, I do make resolutions, too – though I’m a big believer that our resolutions should come from a place of loving ourselves rather than trying to “fix” ourselves, as resolutions can so often imply.
For me, my resolutions often center around my mental health. Since obsessive-compulsive disorder and complex trauma are my constant companions, I take the New Year as a moment to check in with myself and decide what I might do differently (and what should stay the same!) to ensure that I’m taking care of myself.
This year, I want to share those resolutions. Here are 20 that I hope will inspire you to prioritize your mental health this coming year (with some f-bombs thrown in here, for good measure, brace thyself):
1. I will only invest in people who invest in me. I will not pour my energy into a relationship that is intentionally one-sided; I will not offer my time to someone who does not value our relationship.
2. I will ask for help when I need it. Fuck this struggle bus that I ride for weeks on end, thinking that I should pull myself up by my bootstraps and deal. I’ll call the hotline; I’ll give my psychiatrist a ring; I’ll message a friend.
3. I will take my medications as prescribed. Someone told me recently that bipolar folks have the worst med compliance of any group. Based on my history, I believe it.
4. I will challenge myself to say “yes” to the things that scare me. Because letting anxiety rule over my life keeps me from pursuing amazing opportunities that could bring a lot of happiness into my life.
5. But I’ll also say “no” when I need to, without judgment. Sometimes saying “yes” to everything can be just as harmful as saying “no.” So I’ll seek out a balance.
6. I will stop putting off that phone call. I avoid a lot of things because, well, anxiety. But in doing that, I end up creating more panic than it’s worth. So when I’m able, I’ll push myself to be proactive.
7. I’ll get enough sleep. Because, let’s face it, sleep is critical and getting an early start to my day helps me to be more productive.
8. I’ll stop placing a moral value on food. Food is just food. No more “this is so bad of me” or “I’m being so good right now” when I’m talking about cheesecake and salads. When we judge our food, we by extension judge ourselves. And I don’t need that kind of toxic bullshit in my life, controlling what I can and cannot put on my plate, letting the food I eat decide if I should feel guilty or happy today (or ever).
9. I will focus on being resilient. I have a history of codependency, and knowing this, I’m going to continue my commitment to building up my self-care practice and expanding my support network to ensure I am not putting too much weight on my partners’ shoulders.
10. I will not punish myself for having bad days. Sometimes when my mental health is suffering, I feel that I am personally to blame, as if I made this happen. But the last thing I need is to guilt myself when I’m already struggling. I’m going to opt for kindness instead.
11. I will find a form of movement that I love and incorporate it into my self-care. Not because I want to lose weight, not because I need to exercise to be a “good” person, but because physical movement can be really good for our mental health and can feel great.
12. I will take a break when I need it. Not “when I finish this,” not “if I find the time,” I will take a fucking break if I need one, as soon as I possibly can and as often as it’s needed, because no assignment or task is as important as my mental health.
13. I will buy the latte or go out for dinner with friends, even if money is tight. If I can swing it, I need to get out of the apartment. Frugality at the expense of my mental health is total nonsense. I won’t let myself feel guilty for spending money on “luxuries” if it means that I’m more stable.
14. I will spend less time responding to negative comments and more time responding to positive ones. I’ve spent way too much time replying to negative comments on my articles and just “liking” the positive comments. Guess what that’s accomplished? Literally nothing.
15. I will spend as much time on social media as I fucking want. There are all these ads and memes about going outside and “living.” But truthfully, my online community has helped me through some of the most difficult stuff I’ve ever been through. They give me life. So if being on social media makes me happy, I’ll tweet to my heart’s content.
16. I’ll stop judging myself based on how “productive” I was that day. Guess what? It turns out that we’re not robots. Who would’ve thought?
17. I will shut down the voices in my head that tell me I’m not good enough. Or I’ll try, anyway. Because if I had listened to them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
18. I’ll indulge my inner fangirl. I’ll watch a new show on Netflix for four hours and spend another four hours reading up on all the existing conspiracy theories about the show. I’ll take up a new hobby and let myself get lost in it. I’ll find a new musical artist and read their biography eight times. It doesn’t matter how silly it seems – it’s okay to geek out on something that brings you happiness (as long as you’re not manic, obvi).
19. I’ll dance more. Dancing is literally the best thing. Why don’t I dance more often? I have no idea, but that has got to change.
20. I will vocalize what I need. Sometimes I’m afraid to ask for the things that I need. This year, I won’t self-silence out of a fear that I might be a burden.
No matter what 2016 brings, I hope that you’ll be prioritizing your mental health – not just because it’s important, but because you absolutely deserve to be well.
What are your mental health resolutions for 2016? Share them with me in the comments (and I’ll try to respond, haha: see #14).