4: I will challenge myself to say “yes” to the things that scare me.

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).




  1. This is so great! I refuse to do resolutions, since it’s just one more task to feel guilty about if I fail. But I already try to incorporate a lot of these into my life for self-care. And another big one for me is “building relationships with non-human animals.” In my case, I live with two dogs and two cats, so they’re built in to my routine. But I get a lot of stability, affection, and pleasure from caring for them and interacting with them.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s so important to recognize that resolutions as a thing are not a healthy way of setting goals for everyone. Totally valid. And that’s an awesome part of one’s routine, I’m looking to get a cat in 2016 for that reason. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I gave up resolutions decades ago, appropriate at my age, although I love a good pre-New Year clear-out! I don’t mind looking at achievements and goals and your list is impressive. Getting a cat seems an excellent plan to me. I now have 3 and am in danger of becoming a Cat Lady! Maybe I am one already! Happy New Year!! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know this is kind of random but I LOVE to crochet and one of my goals last year was to make MYSELF a blanket which NEVER happened. I would really like to try to do this again this year but I decided I needed to take the pressure off of myself a bit. I found a book called “Hook to Heal” which is basically a crochet self-help book to for mental and physical health, embracing your inner-artist and all of that stuff. I bought the book and the introduction has already helped me. I’d really like to work through that. If I happen to make a blanket for myself in the process then SO BE IT. 🙂 Anyway, this year it will be all about setting realistic goals for myself and trying to find a bit more balance in my life.

    I really want to stop placing moral judgments on food as well.

    Happy New Year! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seriously, thank you for sharing this. It has given me ideas for how to write my own resolutions to focus on my mental health. Seeing how you have focused on self-affirming goals for the New Year is awesome and so helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I could benefit from almost all of your resolutions! Many of them are things I’ve been trying to do over the past year (January 2015 is when I first asked for help with my generalized anxiety disorder, for example). I could definitely do more to care for myself, though. It’s so darn easy to slip into those old negative patterns! I’ve been especially demanding and unkind to myself when it comes to figuring out my nonbinary identity–I’m so impatient to know exactly what I want, and fearful of what the future may hold. I want to work on self-affirmation and letting go of those unproductive worries. Laying in bed wondering how on earth I can build a life for myself, AS myself, does nothing but give me stomach aches and short me on sleep. I want to work on accepting uncertainty and being able to move forward anyway. Also the taking breaks thing! I need to cultivate some more ways of really relaxing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I gave up on resolutions as such decades ago. In fact, I don’t think I ever bought into the ritual. Your list is so darn sensible with humour and without putting yourself down, just positive. Delightful. Have a great New Year.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Dear Sam,
    Your New Year’s Resolutions sound a lot like mine! I love love love that you say you will spend as much time on social media as you want, because sometimes I feel judged (or maybe that’s my internal voice?) that I spend wayyyyy too much time on facebook. Fuck that. I love facebook and tagging pictures and commenting on things. It’s fun! My first resolution was also to cut off toxic relationship. My so called “best friend” from highschool is horrible at reaching out and is obsessed with his boyfriend. I am so tired of always being the one to reach out. You spoke about codependency- have you read the book “Codependent No More”? I was in a codependent relationship and it helped me a lot. I also have epilepsy haha so I understand what it’s like to take meds and have shitty days. I am also very scared because I recently discovered I am bi and it’s hard to tell people about it, but I am making the effort to tell new friends that. Oh well! Have a wonderful new year and I will keep reading! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My New year´s resolution is simple – I´ll start seeing my therapist and with his help I will do something about my anxieties and downs. Well, it only sounds simple, I am aware of it. It is a long road run, and I am not sure where it will lead me. But I want to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. #4 – Make myself go to more trans conferences in 2016. I didn’t travel much this year and I can tell I’m growing complacent – “so much easier to not leave the safety of my routine daily life,” “too much work to do,” “how can I be away from my boo for that long?” “Flying is scary!” Need to show myself I can do this and that it will be worth doing it 🙂 Thanks Sam, love the article.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for this post. I think reading your resolutions and how you seem to manage them so possitively made me realize I haven’t set my own yet because I’m so afraid of sitting down and doing a check out of my life, Maybe I’m ready to write a little now.
    Happy New Year!!~

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 1. Come Out.
    I’m trans masculine and even though it makes me depressed to dress like a girl, I do so people won’t ask about it.

    2. Do Something Crazy.
    I have generalized anxiety as well, and I really want to go sky diving, but am afraid of getting up there and freezing as I think about all the ways to die.

    3. Make an Awesome Group of Friends.
    I have a couple of good friends, but I want a few more that I can go out and do things with, but social anxiety makes that hard.

    4. Try New Things.
    I tend to be afraid of trying new foods, or going new places, or meeting new people, I like my comfort zone, but really want to expand my horizons.

    5. Kick Butt at Competition.
    I am a competitive ballroom dancer, and I want to prove to people and myself that I can be good at this.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for writing these resolutions, they will make it to my own list.
    “I’ll stop judging myself based on how “productive” I was that day.”
    “I will not punish myself for having bad days.”
    “I will shut down the voices in my head that tell me I’m not good enough.”
    (Oh, and “I’ll dance more”…)
    Happy new 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I applaud your goals toward a healthier and happier self. You have inspired me to really consider the new start of the year and set some healthy goals for myself. It’s so important to focus on authentic needs of the soul as opposed to getting skinnier and richer like so many people do. Thank you, always, for how your posts always hit home for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Um, oh fuck, did I take my pills this morning? Toss in ADHD (don’t know the comorbidity rate in general but I know mine. So mix in ADHD, questionably effective non-stimulant meds for ADHD and cognitive issues with most spectrum/anxiety mess and hell yes, I forget to take my meds timely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello fellow ADHDer! I just started on meds this year, and making sure I took them on time was a challenge at first. Now, I have a pill container with the days of the week next to my coffee machine. I make coffee every morning, so I take the pills with it. It’s made it much easier to remember. I also set an alarm on my phone that goes off for my evening dose. I’m glad I found a system that works, taking meds regularly has helped a lot. I hope you find a system that works for you 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  14. “15. I will spend as much time on social media as I fucking want.”

    My family tells me this is “giving in to” my disease and that I use it to diagnose myself with new ones and then doctor shop until I become “official.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ughhhhhh. I’m so sorry to hear that. A lot of folks misunderstand my reasons for using social media, but at the end of the day, I know myself best. And if social media is what I need on a particular day, social media it is!


  15. Dear Sam,
    Thank you so much for this list. I just became aware of your blog through the Militant Baker (she posted a link through her facebook page). Your New Year’s resolutions spoke to me so much, especially # 10. I struggle with anxiety, and also an illness called Cushings Syndrome. When I have bad days, I tend to beat myself up, thinking mean thoughts like “If you hadn’t eaten that chocolate, you would be able to sleep now. Why don’t you learn!?” This is not helpful. I want to learn to be kinder to myself on difficult days. Thank you for your encouragment! I am sorry to hear that you experience this too, but also am thankful to know that I am not the only one.
    I am excitng to read more of your blog! Happy New Year!
    Xo Margaret

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am also bad for guilting myself or beating myself up myself about things. Someone once told me to talk to myself the way I would talk to my best friend. Bit of a slap in the face when I realized the things I was saying to myself. Best of luck with your efforts 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, I’ve heard that saying too, “talk to yourself the way you would your dearest friend”. It is a helpful reminder. I am always way kinder and gentler with friends than with myself! I am getting better at this, though, thank goodness!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. How on earth do we not know each other yet, and can we please be friends.
    I share many of these goals, and am blogging about them (Goal: write more, and more frequently: check), and reading your list has served as awesome affirmation! A driving force behind most of my goals is a desire to shift my thinking — about myself, mostly — and allow myself to experience joy in more activities. I’m trying on a bunch of new tools to see which ones feel good, and hope to find some mental health and general wellbeing routines that make me happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m really grateful you’ve shared this and I hope all the positive comments have you really looking forward to this year. I’ve been struggling with various mental illnesses for years and each time I find a positive, future- and goal-oriented gem like this online, it never fails to make me feel a little stronger and a little more hopeful. One of my biggest goals for the upcoming months is to give myself more relaxation time and do what makes me feel calm and at peace. Colouring is on trend right now and it sure it fun. Brings out the inner child and the quiet mind along with it. Peace and love!
    And happy new year of course! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  18. These are great tips. Sometimes making lists is essential. This last year, I have really started to come to terms with my ADHD. It’s hard living with it as an adult because it’s seen as a kid’s disorder, but I have found so much support online (#15!) it has cleared so much up for me. So, an important thing to focus on for me this year (continuing from last) is self-forgiveness. I have a lot of limitations (including physical ones) and I am often entirely too focused on all the stuff I can’t do. When it’s a long list, when you’re always having to say “I can’t do/eat/go to that thing because…” it’s pretty hard not to think solely about the negative.
    The other thing I would like to concentrate on is creativity. Creative expression is healthy, and there is room and time in my life for it.
    I have been working with my therapist getting rid of “should” in my vocabulary. When you have ADHD there’s -always- 6554778 things you “should” be doing. I read an excellent thing that said replace should with “I choose to”. Much more motivating.
    Thanks for this great list, and best of luck in this new year.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. GREAT list! New to your blog. I can identify with so many of them. I actually didn’t make any resolutions this year, except to get some exercise and feel better, physically and mentally. I’ll adopt your #11 for this. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I will try to leave the house/apartment/airplane (wherever I am) once a day and go outside! Just take a deep breath and remember that even though the world is massive and scary, I still know how to go outside.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Every thing on this list speaks to me! It is a beautiful, liberating list! Just reading it makes me feel empowered to be more unapologetic. I will work on Not feeling productive enough, watching too much tv, falling into the “too much social media is bad for you rhetoric” when it in fact changed my life and provides me some very real support and respite when I need it. 2. I also love taking a break when it is needed. Not when I’m finished which is something I say all of the time. But when its needed! All of this leads me to make one revolutionary decision for 2016. 1. I will work at not shaming myself!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. number one feels really harsh to me, particularly in a piece about mental health, but i expect its more a semantic issue i’m having than a conceptual one. i don’t expect myself to be able to meet people halfway. it’s just not possible for me and that’s because of my lived reality of disabling mental and physical illness. i need relationships with people who care about and practice equity rather than equality in the relationship. there are plenty of reasons why “half-way” is not a reasonable cut off point for lots of relationships. it’s so arbitrary and without any context for peoples lives, for people who are experiencing oppression, for people who actually rely on relationships to have their basic needs met. You can’t be so picky when that’s the case! not to mention other reasons people stay in relationships (financial, safety, children, language and cultural ties etc). anyhow, just some thoughts (smile). I’m curious to know a bit more about what your statement means to you, if you feel like elaborating/reflecting/clarifying.


    1. I’ve actually talked about the ableism of “cutting out toxic people” in this article:

      Sadlyyyy in a brief listicle it’s really hard to elaborate in any nuanced way on what the semantics are in every statement, so I’m glad that you asked. Two of my partners actually have both physical disabilities and mental illness, so it makes me ridiculously angry when people cut ties because they haven’t “invested” enough to their liking.

      I totally get how my statement can be confusing without expanding on it. But “half way” to me is half of whatever you’re able to bring to the table and half of whatever I’m actually able to.

      I hope that makes sense. I should probably reword that bit to be more clear about what I’m saying. Thanks for flagging that.


      1. I reworded it so hopefully it’s less harmful now. Thanks again for bringing this to the table – I never want to imply that folks without the spoons should just be abandoned or considered less valuable!


  23. All of these are such great ideas. They serve as a good reminder of the important self-care things everyone should be doing, especially if they struggle with mental health. I’ll definitely be revisiting this for a reminder throughout the year. Thanks Sam 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. “Do you see the fear in this article? It’s completely tinged with the terror that all the ways of dealing with mental illness are bad and wrong. We don’t need more of that. We don’t need more thinkpieces telling us that we’d better watch out or our mental illness will sneak up and make us jerks (and it will be our own fault).”

    Never in this article did I say, anywhere, that mental illness is this demon that turns people into jerks. Pretty sure I was sharing my resolutions to encourage people to think about how to prioritize their own health in the coming year, but okay?


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