That moment is almost here. When the time is 11:59 pm on December 31st and you hear everyone chanting, “Ten…nine…eight…” The ball is about to drop, the confetti is about to fly, and your fresh start – to the new year and new decade – is about to commence.
Your mind flashes to that list, whether mental or on paper, of your new year’s resolutions. Lose weight, be more productive, be less distracted, more present, less screen time, more time in nature.
Most of us have lofty goals for the new year. It’s an exciting time full of promise and possibilities. Aren’t all fresh starts? And this article is here to help make sure you succeed.
Sadly the success rate for new year’s resolutions are grim, and many of us have personally experienced failing at them—or forgetting them entirely. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best mental health experts from around the country. These experts came up with the best resolutions for you to pursue in 2020 along with tips to help you keep going in the right direction if you get sidetracked.
Take a look below, and write down a few of your favorites so you can live your best life in 2020 and better yourself in the process. The clock is ticking . . . Let’s rock and roll.
#1 – Spend More Valuable Time with Others
This includes friends, family, acquaintances you wish to know better, and networking with meaningful figures in the community.
Plan time each week to focus on leisure and explore new activities with your loved ones. If spending money is an issue, plan homemade meals or game nights. You can also suggest potlucks to make less work for yourself and try new foods. New connections can also improve your career and foster a sense of community within your work life.
#2 – Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance
Prioritize your work needs, manage your time better, maximize each hour of your workday, and educate yourself on how to be as productive as possible during the time you have.
Make daily and weekly lists and focus on the major tasks you must get done each day. This will help you use your time wisely. Delegate as you are able and ask supervisors for assistance if you are having difficulty. This will not only help your stress levels, but also improve your ability to do your job.
Spend less time gossiping or catching up with coworkers. Seek time with positive people within your workplace’s culture. If this isn’t possible, take a short lunch or break outside of work to clear your head and return to your role refreshed.
#3 – Be More Gracious and Be Grateful for What You Have
Take the time to appreciate what you have by acknowledging these things each morning and each night to start and end your day off on the right note. Write down at least two things you are grateful for to focus on the positive in your life.
This often helps to relieve stress and regain perspective and focus on what is important to you. This can be done in the morning to start your day off right, if you find more stress in the morning, or at night if you have difficulty sleeping due to stress.
#4 – Create an Easy and Practical Self-Care Routine
This will help you better manage your stress and emotional health. Try deep breathing, meditation, affirmations, and spending time in nature.
Focus on incorporating one technique each day and use variety to find what you like. If the weather is nice, take a walk outside. Experiment with positive affirmations to lift your mood and focus on the positive. You can practice deep breathing in any place with no one knowing.
Try meditating on positive scenes and images to relax and connect with a time that brings you enjoyment. Once you are familiar with some techniques that you like, you can form a schedule to practice on your lunch hour, as part of your morning routine, or before bedtime.
Brittany Ferri is an occupational therapist and owner and founder of Simplicity of Health, LLC.
In addition, she is an author, copywriter, and consultant.
#5 – Start Before You are Ready
Do not let perfectionism stop you from making your goals and dreams happen. You can learn from starting now and continue to grow as you go.
Have a goal in mind for 2020? Write it out and set an intention each day to help you work towards that goal. We often know the big picture goal and feel like we have to know the entire game plan of how to achieve it which can lead us to delay starting to work towards our goal.
You can create the game plan as you go. You’ll make mistakes along the way and that’s okay! Learn from those mistakes and keep redefining your game plan as you work towards achieving the big-picture goal.
Example: Want to lose 20 lbs?
Set the intention to start moving for 10 minutes today, to drink more water, or to have a veggie at every meal. You don’t have to be fully meal-prepped, know exactly what workout program you will follow, or give up the coffee completely.
You just have to start somewhere and figure out what works and what does not as you go!
#6 – Be Kind to One Person Daily
Kindness creates positivity which creates a happier you, a happier life and a happier world.
Hold the door open for a stranger, buy the Starbucks for the car behind you, or show appreciation to your co-worker for their help on a project. There are so many ways to be kind to one person each day in your life.
To help you come up with ideas, think about the acts of kindness that have been done unto you in the past few months and make a list to help guide you on your journey of kindness.
And if you’re really struggling, turn on The Ellen show because her entire message is about being kind daily!
Rachel Elder is a licensed mental health counselor in Seattle, WA.
Her therapy focuses on marriage, couples, and strengthening relationships.
#7 – Schedule Monthly Financial Planning
Let’s be honest, most people are not on top of their finances. Scheduling a monthly meeting with a professional will create accountability. What’s more, facing money worries head-on will ultimately reduce your financial anxiety.
#8 – Schedule a Monthly Night Out
This could be a date night, family get-together, or boys/girls night out. All of your important relationships need nurturing. That’s why a minimum of once a month is needed to maintain romantic relationships, friendships, or family functioning.
#9 – Schedule Weekly Exercise
Meet with a trainer at the gym, do yoga with a friend, or go running with a club. Do something involving a social commitment. That way you won’t back out. Exercise generates energy, increases motivation, and neutralizes stress hormones. At the very minimum, this must be done once a week.
The above three resolutions will impact everything else in your life. When they are accomplished, you will see a positive ripple effect. Use the power of social accountability and scheduling.
Michael Ceely, LMFT, is a licensed psychotherapist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
He provides therapy in Berkeley, San Francisco, and online.
#10 – Flush Your Mind’s Toilet
Just as when the toilet bowl is full, it becomes less effective until it’s flushed, so too are our minds. Keeping too much stored in your mind is overwhelming and can make you stressed and anxious.
Journaling helps to relieve this issue and also provides an opportunity to get more organized. This coming year make the most of the profound benefits of journaling.
#11 – Take on a New Hobby or Learn a New Skill
Hobbies offer a sense of fun and freedom that can minimize stress and anxiety, providing an outlet for something positive to look forward to. They can help you relax and seek pleasure in activities not associated with work or other responsibilities.
#12 – Make Time for “Me Time”
Resolve to set aside time at least once a week to refresh and re-energize. This allows you to think more clearly and make better choices, building your self-esteem because you’re worth it.
Adina Mahalli, MSW, is a certified mental health consultant.
She is a specialist who writes for Maple Holistics.
Hello 2020, new year, new decade! As a relationship expert, here are three resolutions I am shouting from the rooftops for 2020:
#13 – Practice Intentionality
Get real with your time and energy. Feeling stuck in your romantic partnership? Commit to a date night once a month!
#14 – Set Boundaries, Boundaries, and More Boundaries
2020 is the decade for advocacy and boundaries. Technology draining you? Time to set a boundary and charge your phone in the kitchen, no more going to bed and waking up feeling social media fatigue!
#15 – Be Gracious with Yourself
We are all on a journey of learning and growing, when you feel discouraged, pause and remind yourself of the journey.
Dr. Kendra O’Hora is a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist.
She is the owner of HarCo MFT & Wellness Center in Maryland.
#16 – Don’t Try to Drink Less in January
We’ve all quit New Years Resolutions within the first month, some within the first few days. You should spend the first part of your year observing the behavior you wish to change and from that place of understanding, go to work on it.
For an entire month before committing to the challenge for taking control of your drinking, simply observe and reflect. You can apply this process to all of those habits that are blocking your potential.
It’s usually around the 10 percent mark of all new year resolutions set. Rather than try to drink less in January, observe your habits and then do the real work in February and beyond.
The problem with habit change is that we’re not wholly aware of our habits and the trends to begin. Employing a self-reflection technique is crucial to new year resolutions success.
Benny Wallington is an alcohol coach and founder of 101 Tokens.
He is an accredited Peak Performance Coach through the Flow Genome Project.
#17 – Practice Gratitude on a Daily Basis
Rather than celebrate what you’re thankful for once a year, intentionally choose to celebrate what’s going right in your life.
#18 – Send a Handwritten Note Once a Week
Make a commitment to send “feel good” notes to those that you love and care about every week. This will be an instantaneous way to spread brightness into the world and it will boost your mood as well.
#19 – Commit to Give Back This Year
Whether that includes donating your time once a month, contributing more to charities you care about or serving in another way, think about how you can give back on a regular basis. Not only will this bring joy to those around you, but it will also enhance your well being and mental health.
Lauren Cook is a clinician working at the University of San Diego’s counseling center.
She is a published author whose books include “The Sunny Side Up: Celebrating Happiness.”
#20 – Create Space and Time for Mindfulness and Self-Care Activities
Perfect activities are yoga, guided meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and massage. You should set up a schedule to help you remember to engage in these activities regularly. Set an alarm on your phone or use an app to help you ensure you take time out for self-care.
You should team up with a friend for accountability and take a yoga class together, go to the spa, or simply check-in on each other to see if they are doing.
#21 – Be Intentional about Challenging Automatic Negative Thoughts
Replace negative thoughts with healthier, more rational thinking. You should seek out the help of a therapist who is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) who can assist you with learning strategies to change your thinking.
You could also engage in bibliotherapy and read books pertaining to this topic. “A Year of Positive Thoughts” by Engeldinger comes to mind as this is a guided journal that helps individuals to engage in positive thinking.
Dr. Rebecca Cowan, LPC, NCC, is a licensed professional counselor.
She is the owner of Anchor Counseling & Wellness, LLC in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
#22 – Forgive Yourself
The universe doesn’t want perfect people, it wants do-overs. Mistakes happen.
We can learn from them and go forward, but only if we can graciously forgive ourselves for stumbling on the way to the life lessons we need. Forgiving yourself lets you recover from setbacks and go forward. Practice self-forgiveness until you succeed with it.
#23 – Recharge Your Batteries as Necessary
Racing through the day, meeting the needs of deadlines, friends, neighbors, and relatives can be physically and emotionally draining. Remind yourself that “I’ll rest when necessary, and follow up when I can focus properly.”
Nobody makes progress when they can’t think straight or remain physically healthy. Balance your body and mind with rest and a heaping helping of self-preserving forgiveness….
Watch the benefits accrue over time. Your mood will improve. So will your level of patience. Those small changes mentioned above can be real life-savers literally and figuratively.
Yocheved Golani is a mental health columnist, published author, and life coach.
She is certified in Health Information Management and Spiritual Chaplaincy.
#24 – Trade Overeating for Helping Your Soul Shine
Before overeating, ask yourself: “Is it my body that is hungry – or my soul?”
When you feel like overeating because you want the pleasure to last, get in the habit of asking yourself that question. Since it’s your soul that is genuinely hungry, you may want to call or text someone lonely, step outside to breathe in some nature, get up and stretch or dance to the music you love.
Do whatever helps your soul shine. When you joyfully nourish your hungry core with the lasting pleasure it is genuinely craving, your inner emptiness will be filled.
If you get in the habit of doing this whenever you feel like overeating, you will start reaching for a far greater variety of joyful and more meaningful pleasures instead. And one day you will notice that those bags of potato chips have stopped calling your name so loudly.
Bracha Goetz is a Harvard-educated researcher on food addictions.
She is the author of 38 books including “Searching for God in the Garbage.”
You might have established a handful of networks or made trust able friendships on social media, but still, it is useless to fill the emptiness of real-life with mere retweets or shares. In order to bring mindfulness in life, it is a good idea to create a distance from social media, and follow it as the new year’s resolution.
To acquire mental fitness, you need to pay attention to the details of little things around you and no wonder of saying that, in crowdedness of social media, the attention gets blurred, which subsequently leaves you in utter dismay. You can only find solace and immunity in discovering yourself in daily life, not in search of feed.
John Parrott is the founder of Relax Like a Boss.
His work helps people beat stress and live healthier, happier lives.
#26 – Practice Gratitude Daily for the Next Year
Whether it’s sticky notes, a journal, out loud or to a loved one, listing five things you’re grateful for every single day for a full year is a practice that can completely shift your life.
#27 – Add Rather Than Subtract
Focus on adding things into your life rather than taking out. For example, rather than dieting or choosing New Years as the time to give up a bad habit, focus on adding something to your life that you’ve been missing. Trips with friends, time on a massage table, or a long hike outside are all great ideas.
Haley Neidich is an LCSW and Director of CertaPet.
This organization helps people to get emotional support animals.
#28 – Avoid Unnecessary Emotional Stress
In 2020 learn to prioritize yourself and prioritize personal goals you want to achieve. If you’re a person who is always on the go, commit some downtime and relax. Your mental and physical health deserves to rest and recharge.
Remain mindful in 2020 and in the moment. Live in the now and try not to dwell on the past and not worry so much about the future.
#29 – Break the Stigma of Seeking Mental Health Help
If you have been experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety why not make 2020 the year you find support and talk about your mental health. Learn about the available treatment options that are out there such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dual Diagnosis treatment programs.
Seeking support to sort through your mental and emotional state is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. There is no reason why you should go through it alone.
#30 – Put Your Health First in 2020
Get plenty of exercise rather its yoga, going to the gym or even as simple as taking a long way home from work. Find a way to make new connections aside from the social media spectrum. Everyone is on their phone these days, attempt trying in attending social events around the city, concerts, group meetups.
Marissa Katrin Maldonado is the founder of The Treatment Specialist.
Her company provides education on mental health conditions and treatment options.
#31 – Make Time for Yourself in 2020
Practicing self-care and taking the time to live out some of your dreams in the here and now adds richness to life and increases overall functioning.
Pick three or four activities that you really want to do over the next year. You can go big, but remember to make these activities realistic; things that you can make happen.
Once you decide what you want to do or where you want to go, set a date for each one. Actually pull out your calendar and mark it down. Doing this will help make the plan feel real. It is written down, you can see it, you can countdown the days, you can arrange finances and travel details if necessary.
#32 – Spend More Face-to-Face Time With Friends and Family in 2020
We are social creatures. We crave connectedness and need it to thrive mentally and emotionally.
While social media has made it easier to touch base with one another, we sometimes use that as a replacement for face-to-face interactions and relationships. It is not the same quality of interaction and connectedness. So if you can, put down the phone, step away from the computer, and engage with one another.
If you live far away from your family or have a strained relationship, this may not be feasible, but find someone who brings joy to your life and spend unplugged time with that person. You will be surprised how this will add to overall mental well-being and health.
Erica Wiles writes for Compare Life Insurance and is a licensed professional counselor.
She works with families through intensive in-home counseling and therapeutic day treatment.
#33 – Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions
If you are feeling like life has kicked you in 2019, use those lessons to set yourself up for success in 2020. The first way to do that is to not set New Year’s Resolutions, because, what is the first thing you will be doomed to fail in 2020 – meeting your goal.
That doesn’t mean don’t have goals for the new year. It simply means that there is no difference between December 31st and January 1st. It is okay if you don’t meet your goal as long as you tried and you don’t have to wait till New Year’s Day to put in the work.
How many people have you seen make a resolution to join the gym and lose weight in the new year, only to see them going strong for two weeks in January before trying to wiggle out of their gym membership?
That is not because they can’t achieve their goals. It just means that they must put in the effort and should start by setting measurable and attainable action plans towards reaching their desired goal.
Don’t set yourself up to fail. Consider the reason for your goal. If it is to lose weight, consider why you want to lose weight. It may be due to health concerns, wearing cuter clothes, to run a marathon, or to be able to chase grandkids.
Whatever your reasons are, make those your goals. Sometimes our reasons will drive us to succeed faster than a New Year’s resolution will.
#34 – Adopt a Holistic Approach to Your Health
It’s a fact that losing weight can improve your physical and mental health. However, it is also a fact that it may not. Consider your mental health, physical health, and spiritual health when trying to make life changes in the new year.
Sometimes depression and other mental health issues can wreak havoc on your physical health. So if you have a mental health diagnosis, it is important to pay attention and seek help.
Spirituality for some is an internal place of happiness and contentment. If you have found yourself slipping away from your spiritual beliefs and activities, make time for them again.
It is important for good overall health to practice your beliefs and to fellowship with like-minded individuals who can be an extra support network through the rough patches. Having a holistic approach to health means that all avenues towards the journey to optimal health are covered.
It is like a domino effect – when one system is out of whack, they may all be affected. So listen to your body, mind, and soul. Make time for your health because life needs you to be at your best.
Robyn Flint writes for Compare Life Insurance and has an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Her experience includes counseling children and families, and she is a published author.
#35 – Eat More Organic Vegetables, Lots More
This is actually much more nuanced than it looks. Besides their obvious health benefits, vegetables require time and effort to prepare. This forces an interruption in one’s workday and causes a natural transition from work to rest.
Building breaks into the day and taking a few moments to use your hands to feed your family (or just yourself) are great ways to connect with the things that really matter: love, time together, and moments of peace and creativity. All from veggies.
#36 – Say Yes
Two years ago I made the resolution to say yes whenever I could. This simple choice opened my life up in so many ways. Committing to yes means doing more, seeing more, feeling more, being more. I connected with old friends, learned about causes I knew nothing of previously, and got out of my “tv at night and then bed” routine.
One of the great benefits of my year of “yes” was the creative thinking it took to challenge myself to help make things happen.
What needed to be done first, before I could go back to skiing? I needed to get in shape, that’s what!! How could I get together with someone I hadn’t seen in teen years without it being weird? By going to an awesome exhibit, that’s how!
Then we had new ways to connect. And I will never regret taking the extra time to go see my parents when they asked me to go to get another concert because as it turned out, time was short. I don’t say yes to everything anymore, although I do say yes a lot. But my year of yes was transformative, and I recommend it!
Tiiu Lutter writes for Compare Life Insurance and has a master’s in psychology.
She is the co-owner of Richmond and Lutter, a counseling center.
In the end, there seem to be a few consistent themes.
First, it’s important not to set out-of-reach goals for yourself. Be realistic and give yourself time to make gradual improvements. It won’t happen overnight. Don’t beat yourself up for not accomplishing a set goal in the time frame you wanted. Mistakes are part of the process.
Second, spend time with your family and friends. The sad reality: the time we spend facing a screen is increasing, and the time we spend in person with our loved ones is decreasing.
We have great surface relationships online, but often fail to take care of those relationships in person. Make sure to spend valuable time with your loved ones—beyond a Facebook like or comment.
Third, experts suggest practicing gratitude. Thinking about the things you are grateful for each day. Research and countless personal stories prove it will improve your mood and overall mental health.
Lastly, take time for yourself. Set clear boundaries to establish a better work/life balance, start a workout routine, take up a new hobby, budget yourself some downtime for a warm bath or to read a new book. Personal time allows our minds to declutter and gives you a reprieve from the stresses of work and family.
Here at Compare Life Insurance, we would like to give a big thanks to all the experts who contributed to this piece. Mental health work can be a thankless job with many hurdles and challenges. We thank all the experts who took time out of their busy schedules to help us compile this list. Thank you for helping our readers work to make 2020 their best year yet.