The New Year’s resolution mental health experts recommend for 2021

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Elyse Hanna enjoys some crafting time at her home in Northfield, Ohio. Mental health experts at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center say with everything we’ve been through in 2020, taking a little time for yourself can be healthier than making a big New Year’s resolution this year.

COLUMBUS, Oh (WEHT) – New Year’s Day is typically a time to make resolutions, such as exercising more, eating better or losing weight. But this year, mental health experts at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center say making such major New Year’s resolutions during these chaotic times can add more stress and be counterproductive. Instead, take some time to reset, focusing on what you can do to take better care of yourself in 2021.

When it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, rather than a sweeping change that requires major adjustments to your life, experts recommend making small shifts to bring greater ease into your daily life or see the positive that’s already there. One of the best ways to find these opportunities is to practice mindfulness.

Whether it’s meditation or simply bringing more awareness to nourishing activities you’re already doing, mindfulness can help you stay in the present moment, letting concerns about the past and future be held more lightly. There are plenty of apps and online resources to introduce you to different types of mindful activities.

Experts say identifying sources of stress and making small, incremental changes to boost happiness is going to be a lot more helpful than setting a really high bar, not meeting that bar and feeling discouraged.

Here’s three tips to help clear your head and move forward with a more positive outlook in 2021:

● Shift your perspective – It’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong in our lives and miss what’s positive or going well. First thing every morning, reflect on three things you’re grateful for. Starting your day by reminding yourself of the good things in your life can help you keep a more balanced outlook in the face of the day’s challenges.

● Unplug – Schedule some time to reconnect with the world around you. Taking some time away from screens can help you let go of stressors that are often in your control and put the focus back on yourself. Mindless scrolling on social media can actually increase stress and anxiety. Put the phone and computer aside and take a walk, cook a meal or ask your family about their day.

● Be kind to yourself – Pause to take a deep breath, a bubble bath, a nap, whatever you need that day to help you remember that you’re important too. Just take care of yourself.

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(This story was originally published on December 27, 2020)

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