We want to talk about mental health resolutions and I would like to say first that as I am human I know what I know not everything so we can help each other in figuring this thing out.
We can start of by defining what a resolution is.
According to the Collins dictionary, “a resolution is determination to do something or not do something”
They further say “If you make a resolution, you decide to try very hard to do something.”
Therefore a resolution is a decision, which is the key word.
I assume we all know what mental health or wellbeing means since there is no singular definition to it. It is the optimal mental state that enables one to cope with life stresses in a positive way, positive mindset and functional thought processes.
No lie, 2020 spilling into 2021 has been the most difficult time in recent history. We have had and are still having a pandemic which had devastated our normal way of living, forcing us to be in a world wide and local locqkdown. We have struggled to totally adjust to it. We are social beings and living in confinement is not our thing at all.
Some have had extreme stress, some depression, some countless episodes of anxiety and panic attacks simply because this is not the position we envisioned ourselves in.
In 2020 plans went down the drain and our fast paced world was halted and we were told to be still….
I know we grew used to it over time and the pressures receded and here we are now in a new year. Some learnt new skills, some got to read that book they always procrastinated on, some gathered the courage to tell that one person how they felt, some made new friends, some fell in love all over again with their partners, some found peace in their lives.
In this down turn there was an upside yes though it was forced upon us.
However there is still a lot of uncertainty. What will tommorow be like, how will I get through this lockdown again, when can I see them, will we survive, can I be all that I wished to be in the world when the world is just so silent. How?, when?, where?, what? We have questions good people and I do not have the silghtest clue to what the answers could be however what I know is that we can prepare ourselves for the unknown.
Which brings us to the resolutions, the decisions.
Anxiety, stress, panic, depression, sadness, loneliness, isolation, fear, anger, frustration, apathy, these are some of the emotions and feelings we have and might experience in these trying times. And I would like you to take a minute and think about the feelings and emotions that you usually face and experience be it on a daily basis or occasionally or they being deep seated within you. Take a moment…..
Now you know yourself, and the mental space that you want to be in. Also take a moment and envision that…..
That which you envisioned is what your resolutions will be made of.
Making mental health resolutions
1. Look back
Socrates once said an unexamined life is not worth living. He was challenging his students to think deeply about how they lived in all truth and honesty such that one lives life completely. Look back and assess the kind of thoughts you let run through your mind, were they good or bad, positive or negative, destructive or functional. Did they allow you to move forward or grow or live life completely even if we were facing hardship? Were you anxious or did you lose interest in the things you once loved? Did the fire burn out. Did you lose hope? Did you think about ending it? Did you find yourself crying for no reason?
What about the emotions you faced? Did you communicate them? Did you let them drive you to break up relations or mend them? Did you get carried away?
What about your behavior? Can we say it was one which represented your upbringing? Was it good to others and to yourself? Would you want someone else to behave the same with you?
You know the answers to these questions and you should be truthful in answering them.
2. Identify triggers and dysfunctional mental thoughts
In your self examination looking back identify the triggers or causes of these thought, feelings and emotions. There is this theoretical concept called “cause and effect”, which means that things do not just happen, emotions do not just fester and thoughts do not just come to your head, they all have a source. Identify the source of stress, the cause of your anxiety, the root of your anger and frustration. Ask why did I feel like this, why did I think like this, what had happened, who had caused this. Is it mom or dad or the siblings. Is it school work, is it the boyfriend or girlfriend, is it the loneliness, is it fear of the pandemic or fear of not seeing your loved ones or frustration from foiled plans. What is it. This then leads to the next step.
3. Write down what you want to become, the resolutions
Now that you have identified the triggers to your mental stresses, write down what you want to be and become. The thing here is that you now know the mental areas that you want to improve on, if it was panicking and anxiety you are now saying I want to be more calm and not always think negatively in situations. If it was fear induced by the media you now say I want to get information from factual sources and then have an informed reaction. If it was the pressures of relationships you now say I want to improve on communication and find innovative ways to be with loved ones even when they are not close. Write down how you want to respond to certain situations, draft what you will do when certain thoughts and habits come into play, write down the mental states that you want to possess in 2021 and how you intend to achieve them. This is the part where you create yourself, being the best you that you wish to become.
The thing with writing as in writing with a pen and paper is that it has the potential to last longer and it has a drive to it that motivates as you put your physical and mental energy into it, so use a pen and paper people.
4. Make a decision to act towards these resolutions
Decide. Decide. Decide.
We can talk and talk but achieving mental wellness will need a decision. It is not easy, no one said it will be but in the end It will be worthwhile. Decide to defy all odds because there are some situations which are not easy to run away from, they will be with us daily but then decide on how you will handle them. Decide not to let certain things worry you, decide to learn that new skill, decide to express your feelings and emotions, decide to text first, decide to burst that bubble and break those walls, decide to be better for yourself and those around you. Decide to move forward. Decide.
After deciding to do that then act, for actions turn thoughts into life then maybe, just maybe we will achieve the best versions we desire for our mental wellness.