Now that the new year has started, many of us are deciding on some of the classic New Year’s resolutions: weight loss, eating healthier, getting in shape, etc. These can be great goals.

They only focus on physical health, though. What about mental health?

Striving for good mental health is equally important, yet it’s not on most people’s radar in January. Even as a therapist, I don’t see many people resolve to improve their mental health once a new year begins.

This year try going beyond focusing on typical health goals. Here are some mental health resolutions and pieces of advice to help make 2018 one of your healthiest years yet.

1. Change Critical Self-Talk

Negative and critical self-talk is one of the most rampant issues I see in my practice as a therapist. So many of us, myself included, engage in self-deprecating thoughts from time to time. This can negatively impact your emotional health.

In the new year make a pact with yourself to work on changing those internal critics who only serve to get in the way of living at your healthiest and being at peace.

2. Learn Something New (About Yourself)

“Variety is the spice of life” is a well-known quote for a reason. Introducing novelty into our lives can give us a renewed sense of energy and zest for life.

For those living with anxiety or depression, embarking on something new can often help kickstart the process of recovery. Engaging in self-exploration through exposure to new ideas, activities or people can lead to exciting discoveries in the new year.

3. Make Your Resolutions SMART

If you have done an Internet search for New Year’s Resolutions, you have likely found many search results that show how bad we are at keeping up with our new goals. Instead of focusing on the potential negative results, start the new year by creating SMART [Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound] goals.

SMART goals will help you be accountable and give you clear ways to make and measure progress. This kind of accountability and structure might be the best way to reach your desired goals.

For example, many people seek to “get fit” in the new year. But what exactly does that mean? How much weight would you like to lose? How much weight would you like to dead-lift? How many miles would you like to run without stopping and by when?

SMART goals help turn an ill-defined objective into something powerful and active. “Be more fit” becomes “Be able to run two miles without stopping by March 1.”

Here’s a quick rundown of how to make your goals SMART:

Specific: Make your goals as specific as possible.

Measurable: Give yourself a clear marker to know when you’ve met your goal or not (two miles is an objective measurement).

Achievable: Do your research and consider how achievable your goals are with the time you have in mind (Is it reasonable to run a half marathon after running for only two weeks? It’s not impossible, but it’s most likely not achievable without more training and preparation.)

Realistic: Ask yourself, “Is my goal too lofty? Will I have enough time in my day or week to make the progress I need? Is this only aspirational?”

Time-bound: Like the example mentioned above, create a resolution that is time-specific. This will help you create smaller objectives that are achievable and realistic so you may increase your chances of success with your overall goal.

4. Spend Less, Save More (Time for Yourself)

In the coming year place focus on spending less time stressed and saving more time for you and everything you love. Regular self-care can have a profound impact on emotional and mental health.

Here’s to a happier new year!

This article originally appeared on Talkspace


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