As the New Year begins, it’s time for a fresh start, and one way to start anew is to celebrate Mental Wellness Month. Each year in January, Mental Wellness Month calls attention to the need for quality mental health services and encourages people to take steps to promote their own mental health. As you set your New Year’s Resolutions, you might consider incorporating new routines that promote psychological well-being. Get started with these new routines by learning a little more about the meaning of mental wellness, as well as specific ways you can prioritize it this year.
What is mental wellness?
To enjoy the full benefits of mental wellness, it’s important to understand the meaning of this phrase. Numerous fields of study, including psychology, sociology, and economics, have taken an interest in the concept of wellness. Scholars generally agree that the journey toward mental wellness is a lifelong process, and not simply a destination that you reach and then remain indefinitely.
More specifically, mental wellness is associated with experiencing positive emotions, satisfaction with life, resilience in the face of setbacks, and ongoing personal growth. It is important to note that a person can have a mental health condition, such as anxiety, but still achieve a state of mental wellness if they are able to cope with life’s stressors and achieve their full potential.
Another component of mental wellness is that it is unique to the individual; your idea of mental wellness may look different from your best friend’s concept of wellness because it is based upon what you find to be personally meaningful and relevant. For instance, some people may feel satisfied with life when they are meeting their career goals, whereas others will achieve high levels of satisfaction when they have created a healthy, happy family. You shouldn’t allow someone else to define what mental wellness means for you, nor should you compare your journey to someone else’s.
New Year’s Resolutions as an Opportunity for Mental Wellness
If you’re looking to become more resilient or to improve your outlook on life, you can use the New Year as an opportunity to set resolutions related to mental wellness. If you do choose to center your resolutions on wellness, it’s important to create goals that are focused on intentional action, rather than avoidance of certain behaviors. For example, a recent study that evaluated the success rate of New Year’s resolutions found that people who set approach-oriented goals were more successful than those who set avoidance-oriented goals.
Approach-oriented goals reflect a desired behavior or outcome that a person would like to achieve, whereas avoidance-oriented goals relate to behaviors a person wants to avoid, as the name might suggest. What this means is that you’re more likely to achieve goals related to mental wellness if you frame them as desired changes you’d like to make. As an example, you might set a New Year’s resolution stating that you will keep a weekly gratitude journal rather than setting a goal to “avoid negative thoughts.”
Mental Wellness Goals for the New Year
So, what might New Year’s mental wellness goals look like? Consider some of the examples below.
Develop Healthy Coping Strategies
Resilience, defined as the ability to adapt successfully in the face of adversity, is a key component of achieving mental wellness. If you want to become more resilient, it’s important to develop healthy coping strategies because adaptive coping can increase resilience and make you less reactive to stress.
Consider your current strategies for coping with stress. Do you tend to shut down in the face of difficulties? Or, maybe you use unhealthy coping strategies, such as indulging in comfort food or going on shopping sprees. Whatever the case, setting a goal to replace existing coping strategies with healthier versions, such as relaxation techniques or regular exercise, can bolster your mental wellness in the New Year.
Start Each Day on a Positive Note
Being satisfied with life is a central feature of mental wellness, and this can certainly look different for each person. Increase your own life satisfaction by beginning your day on a positive note, with an activity or practice that brings you joy.
For some people, this may mean starting the day with stretching or exercise. For others, starting the day with a joyful activity may mean getting up 30 minutes before the rest of the family to enjoy a cup of coffee and set an intention for the day in silence. Whatever you choose, make it something that truly brings you happiness.
Set a Personal Development Goal That’s Meaningful for you
Personal growth and flourishing are critical components of mental wellness, so setting personal development goals can be an important part of the journey. Since everyone has a different idea of what constitutes flourishing, it’s essential to choose a goal that is meaningful to you.
Think about what sort of achievements or visions have been on your mind recently. For some people, personal development goals may center on something big, like going back to school. For others, smaller achievements, like taking up weightlifting or learning a new skill, may be the focus of personal goals.
What’s important is that you choose something meaningful to you and make a commitment to working toward it during the New Year. Having a goal in mind allows you to have a sense of purpose, which is associated with health and wellbeing.
When It’s Time for Treatment
Prioritizing mental wellness can have a positive impact on mental health, and for some people, self-care activities, such as starting each day with exercise and making time for relaxation, can prevent mental health problems like depression or anxiety from interfering with daily life. While this may be the case, there are some instances in which professional treatment is warranted. If you find that mental health symptoms are significant and make it difficult for you to maintain relationships and function at work, it may be time to seek treatment.
For those who experience chronic depression, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can be a valuable treatment option. This non-invasive modality uses a device placed against the forehead to stimulate areas of the brain associated with mood. You may be a candidate for TMS if medication and/or therapy have failed to alleviate your symptoms. Pulse TMS offers services to those in the Los Angeles area. Contact us today to learn more.