2021 Is the Year for Mental Health GoalsFree Access

We all wanted to start the month of January on a positive start. Messages on losing weight, starting an easy exercise routine from home, and maybe trying a new hobby all seemed so easy on January 1st. However, as the month has rolled along and the kids are remote because one of their friends tested positive for COVID, and terrifying events in DC are making us now eat cupcakes at 10am, it seems like those New Year’s resolutions are much harder to implement.

Instead of having goals that are unrealistic or are the same every year, maybe pandemic-affected 2021 is the time to start with fresh mental health changes? If we are better mentally, many of the other areas in our lives such as our weight, relationships, and career can more easily flourish. Many

1. Focus on your connections

Look at the people in your life and reach out to them on a daily basis. Call, text and make sure that you are there for them when they need you. Make sure your relationships are meaningful and that the time you have with them is special. Try to get creative. If you can’t see them try cooking with them over Zoom or seeing a movie together by Zoom. Having a new experience with this person is so valuable for your mental health.

2. Mindful Minute

Non-stop screens and no space within our homes is creating a great deal of anxiety and stress for many people. Create mindful minutes for yourself throughout the day where you allow your mind and body to relax. Look out the window and focus on something outside like a tree, the river, a mountain and take 5-10 calming breaths. All it takes is one minute, and you can have a completely different feeling from being wound up to relaxed.

3. Boundaries

Start learning to create boundaries. Healthy boundaries are crucial for our self-care and our mental health. That means creating a space between you and something else or another person where you can protect and take good care of yourself. This can be applied to personal, work and family relationships. One example for the new year could be that everyone in the family has a clear space and agenda for their ever-changing work and respects the privacy of others in the family.

4. Social Media Usage

Selective use of social media is a wonderful area to create a mental health goal for the new year especially after what has been happening in the news. Usage can be limited to a certain time and you can monitor your usage with an app on your phone. However, you can go even further by creating stricter boundaries by not using your phone in the bedroom or not checking it first thing when you get up. Or try putting your phone in a drawer on Friday night when you finish work as a signal to have some separation between work and home. All of these suggestions are ways of creating boundaries.

5. Nature

Look where we live. The Hudson Highlands, filled with hikes and nature including our dirt roads, are a gift. To walk outside and breathe the fresh air while spotting a new neighborhood bird is therapeutic and creates a nice break from being inside all day. Also, getting exposure to the sun and vitamin D can help raise our serotonin levels and help with anxiety and depression. Now is the time to try at least one of these mental health goals for 2021. Let me know how they work, I would love to hear.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions at hazuckerman@gmail.com.

Heather Zuckerman, LCSW is a psychotherapist in private practice in Garrison. She specializes in life transitions and the issues that accompany them. For more information go to www.heatherzuckerman.com., Instagram: @heathertherapy and Facebook: Heather Zuckerman Therapy.

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