”Question: I know nutrition is important but how does it play into the bigger picture of goal setting for my health?
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- As the New Year approaches, focus on holistic mental well-being by setting specific and achievable goals using the S.M.A.R.T. framework, covering areas such as sleep, routine, mindfulness, self-care, positive self-talk, lifestyle changes, social media breaks, connections with loved ones, and potential professional support in 2024.
Top Mental Health Goals for 2024:
- Better Sleep: Aim for 8 hours of quality sleep using S.M.A.R.T. criteria. Improve sleep hygiene.
- Develop a Routine: Establish a daily routine, particularly focusing on mornings.
- Incorporate Mindfulness: Integrate mindfulness activities into daily life for immediate relief.
- Prioritize Self-Care: Identify personal self-care practices and incorporate them into routine.
- Positive Self-Talk: Actively cultivate positive self-talk and self-compassion.
- Diet, Exercise, Lifestyle: Set specific, gradual goals for diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
- Social Media Breaks: Schedule regular breaks from social media for mental well-being.
- Connect With Loved Ones: Intentionally nurture connections with friends and family.
- Professional Support: Consider therapy or counseling for expert guidance in mental wellness.
As the New Year approaches, many of us take time to reflect on where we are, how we got here, and where we’d like to go next. The start of a new year is often a time for goal-setting, whether that means cooking more meals at home, travelling the world, reading more books, or simply taking a walk every day.
Just as we set goals for our social lives, our physical health, and our intellect, it’s a great idea to take this time to consider goals for your mental health as well. When we work with a specific, tangible, achievable goal in mind, it can work wonders as a motivational tool. When we create goals, we become accountable to them, and therefore to ourselves. That’s why, in this guide, we’ll be going over some of our top ideas for realistic mental health goals to try and achieve in 2024.
Keep in mind while reading this that it’s by no means a comprehensive list of ‘valid’ goals for mental health. Think of them as more of a jumping-off point, or perhaps inspiration for your own list of goals in the New Year that are completely unique to you.
A Note on S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Perhaps you’ve already made a S.M.A.R.T. goal before. This is a system of goal-setting that helps you set yourself up for success with a simple acronym to consider when creating your objectives. It’s something we highly recommend for those looking to work towards positive mental health changes.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
Specific – What exactly are you looking to change and improve? What’s the focus of this goal, and why is it important to you? The more specific you are, the more real this goal will feel.
Measurable – How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? What tools will you use, whether internal or external, to measure and track your progress?
Action-Oriented – Your goal should be able to be broken down into a list of clear, tangible actions you can take one by one to achieve it.
Realistic – Will the goal you’re setting truly improve your mental health? Is it something you can truly achieve, or is it perhaps too broad, too unspecific, or simply too ambitious for this stage of your life? It can sound harsh, however it’s better than feeling frustrated or feeling as if you’ve set yourself up for failure.
Time-Bound – When does your goal journey begin? How long will it take you to achieve? How long do you give yourself to do what you want to do? Keeping a time frame in mind will help motivate you to continually work toward your mental health goals.
Now that we have S.M.A.R.T. goals in mind, let’s have a look at a few ideas for mental health goals you could work towards in 2024.
1. Get More (Or Better) Sleep
The simple change of getting a consistent 8 hours of quality sleep a night can be absolutely transformative for your mental and physical health. It’s also a great goal to make S.M.A.R.T. since you have a clear metric of how much you’re sleeping.
It can be a tricky habit to get into if you’re used to working off less sleep, but given time and some discipline, you’ll probably find it easy and even necessary to sleep for 8 hours a night.
Improving sleep hygiene (e.g. avoiding bringing phones or electronic devices into your bedroom, and not spending time in your bed except for sleep) is another great goal to work on in tandem with this.
2. Develop a Routine
As simple as it sounds, developing a solid daily routine can relieve a lot of stress that you may not even be aware of. This is especially true of a morning routine—these morning tasks contribute to your hygiene, your health, and the state of your home, all of which can set you up for a better mental health day.
Your exact routine is up to you, but we recommend that it includes making your bed, drinking water, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed, and leaving the house for a walk if possible.
3. Incorporate Mindful Activities Into Your Day
Mindfulness is one of the best tools you can develop for immediate relief from tough mental health moments. Whether you’re having a day with bad depression symptoms or find yourself in the midst of an anxious moment, mindfulness strategies can be a big help in stabilizing your mood and helping you recover.
Some people turn to meditation as their mindfulness exercise of choice, however other strategies can be just as useful. These might include intentional, guided breathing, daily writing in a gratitude journal, taking notice of your surroundings with all five senses, or generally reflecting on the positive parts of each day. You can try to make it your goal to incorporate one or more of these strategies into your everyday routine.
4. Prioritize Self-Care
Self-care is a term that’s thrown around casually, however that’s because it’s truly one of the most important ways you can look after your mental health. It can help if you first identify what self-care looks like for you. Is it a quiet night at home instead of going out? Taking time to do something creative? Spending time in nature? Treating yourself to ice cream and a movie and just taking a break?
When you’ve worked out your own personal definition of self-care, make it a goal to work it into your routine—if not daily, then at least weekly to ensure you’re getting the full benefits.
5. Actively Work on Positive Self-Talk and Self-Compassion
For some, negative thinking and self-image can be a huge obstacle on the journey to mental wellness. Try making a goal to practice more self-compassion in your day-to-day life.
For instance, you could try to write down or say something you like about yourself daily—an affirmation first thing in the morning can be surprisingly powerful. Alternatively, you could commit to rethinking negative thoughts you have about yourself—you’d never say such things to a friend or a family member, so why say negative thoughts to yourself?
6. Focus on Diet, Exercise, and a Healthy Lifestyle
It’s a classic New Year’s resolution, but diet and exercise can’t be ignored when it comes to mental and physical health. Your goal should be specific, tangible, and attainable, so don’t be afraid to take baby steps.
Start with a goal like one 30-minute walk a day, or perhaps take a break from drinking alcohol. You might strive to make more home-cooked meals over eating out, go to the gym once a week, or any other number of positive changes. Transformation won’t happen overnight, so be patient with yourself and focus on one piece of the puzzle at a time.
7. Take a Break From Social Media
Social media and other media, such as the news or even reality TV, can be a fun way to connect with friends and get entertainment. However, it can also have serious negative effects on our minds and moods, particularly if we’re already grappling with mental health challenges.
If you’re looking for a way to reduce the stress, anxiety, or frustration that media can sometimes cause, try setting a goal to take daily or weekly breaks from it. Instead, go for a walk, read a book, listen to music, or hang out with friends and loved ones.
8. Intentionally Connect With Loved Ones
A strong social network of people you love and trust is the only way to thrive in this life, so consider making it a goal this year to be more intentional in connecting with the people you care about. Make it a goal to spend time with friends and family and nurture your connections, even if you don’t necessarily feel like it in that moment. You’ll be better off in the end.
9. Work With an Expert
If you’re looking for extra support in navigating your mental wellness this year, 2024 might be the time to work with a trusted professional. Making it a goal to start with therapy or counselling can be invaluable, and you’ll have the added benefit of an external structure with your therapist to keep you accountable to that goal. They’ll also help you set other goals down the line, making them an invaluable resource for your long-term happiness.
MWi would like to thank Hopewoods for sharing these insights with our community. Click the button below to go to the original article: