New Year Tips: 3 Intentions to Maintain Mental Health

With each new year comes the expectation (and sometimes pressure!) to set resolutions. If you’re setting goals and taking steps to live your best life, we hope you have the support you need. If you’re not setting resolutions, that’s okay. Something else to consider: setting intentions. (What’s the difference? “Resolutions tend to be clearly defined, measurable, and specific…. Intentions, on the other hand, are soft, qualitative, and compassionate.” More on this from this Insight Timer post.)

Here are three suggested intentions for the new year to help you maintain your mental health.

Ask for help when you need it.

There is help and hope—and you are not alone. We remind community members about this frequently for good reason. Those living with mental health care conditions are sometimes reluctant or unable to ask for help, and the same can be said for family members. Help is a phone call or text away for those in crisis, and our NAMI community also has support groups and other resources for help. More resources here.

Stay connected.

Staying socially connected is essential for our overall health. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has made promoting social connection a priority. “Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health… Given the significant health consequences of loneliness and isolation, we must prioritize building social connection the same way we have prioritized other critical public health issues such as tobacco, obesity, and substance use disorders. Together, we can build a country that’s healthier, more resilient, less lonely, and more connected.” Taking steps to be in contact with family, friends and others who support you on a regular basis can help nurture your well-being. More on social connection from Dr. Murthy here and the CDC here.

Make time for self-care.

Taking care of yourself is more than treating or indulging yourself. We each have fundamental needs to tend to for our overall well-being. We hear from community members that they don’t have time for self-care and we understand the challenges faced by those impacted by mental health conditions. In addition to eating well, moving and prioritizing sleep, consider adding small breaks, such as taking five minutes for a walk outdoors, a breathing exercise, or to unwind with music or to cuddle a pet, to your routine. Find out more in our self-care guide here.

Bonus intention: Be kind to yourself.

We all face challenges and being self-critical is not helpful. Try to speak to yourself as you would a loved one. Remind myself that you’re doing the best you can and reflect on progress you have made. If your inner critic’s voice is resounding, you can seek help.