Already feeling anxious about 2022? You’re not alone. While the beginning of a new year can conjure up feelings of hope and excitement for many, for others, it brings nothing but anxiety and stress.
There are many reasons why the start of the new year can trigger our anxiety. With the holidays officially over and done with, we may find ourselves staring down an overwhelming pile of work. January and February also tend to be the coldest months of the year in the United States, which means being stuck inside with few social activities to look forward to.
The good news is that making goals for the new year can go a long way in easing our anxiety. But there’s a catch: your resolutions have to be realistic. Otherwise, you may find yourself even more anxious about not meeting your goals.
To help you out, we’ve come up with a list of realistic New Year’s resolutions that are perfect for people with anxiety. Adopt a couple of the goals below and your mental health is bound to improve in the new year.
Pick ONE way to optimize your sleep.
Few things impact our mental health and overall well-being as much as our sleep quality. And yet, sleep-related goals are often overlooked in our New Year’s resolutions. (Indeed, they failed to appear on YouGov’s list of most common 2021 New Year’s resolutions.)
It’s not that people don’t want or need better sleep, but rather, they often don’t know how to solve their sleep problems. So, instead of trying to solve your biggest sleep woes, try picking one small way to optimize your sleep. This could be anything from limiting your daily caffeine intake to using a sleep mask to encourage deeper sleep.
Cook dinner at least one night a week.
Your taste buds may crave takeout, but when it comes to your mental and physical health, a home-cooked meal almost always comes out on top. Not only is it healthier to whip up a meal from scratch, but it’s also a surprisingly relaxing activity that’s chock-full of mental health benefits. In addition to its stress-busting effects, cooking is a great way to reconnect with your loved ones and get your creative juices flowing.
On top of all that, it saves you money! According to one study, it’s five times more expensive to eat out than cook meals at home.
Try one new workout a month.
You probably know that exercise is an incredible stress reliever. But let’s face it, finding the time and motivation to work out five days a week can be a major challenge. Rather than put unnecessary pressure on yourself to break a daily sweat, consider making it a goal to try a new workout or activity each month. Switching up your workouts offers many benefits, including preventing injuries, releasing stress, and building your confidence. And who knows? You may end up finding an activity you love and want to do five days a week!
Tip: Dealing with social anxiety? Skip the gym and try experimenting with new workouts via fitness apps, YouTube videos, and online workout subscriptions.
Make time for relaxation every day.
The importance of giving yourself time to relax every day can’t be stressed enough. Stress can have long-term effects on the body, increasing the risk of mental health disorders and chronic diseases such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Make sure you’re carving out relaxation time every day, even if it’s only in 15-minute increments.
Need a few ideas? Here are some ways to put yourself into a state of relaxation:
- Take a warm bath or shower (bonus points if you hang eucalyptus from your showerhead).
- Cozy up to a weighted throw blanket and relax under its soothing pressure.
- Get lost in a good book.
- Practice meditation.
Say a daily affirmation upon waking up.
Repeating positive affirmations — positive mantras or phrases that help brighten your outlook on life — can be a helpful strategy for combating negative thoughts and promoting self-confidence in your own capabilities. But in order for positive affirmations to work, you need to be saying them out loud every day.
To make the habit stick, try writing a positive affirmation on a sticky note (this could be anything from “I am good enough” to “I am more than my anxiety”) and tape it to your bathroom wall. Like most people, you probably use the bathroom first thing in the morning, which means you’ll see your positive affirmation not long after you wake up. Look yourself in the eye and repeat the positive affirmation. Over time, you’ll notice that your mindset starts to shift for the better.
Drink more water.
Forget all about juice detoxes and other cleansing diets. Not only are these diets miserable to follow, but they can also be dangerous for your health. Instead, make it a goal to drink more water. On top of improving your physical health, drinking a steady supply of water throughout the day can help ease your anxiety and nervousness. That’s because water has been shown to have a calming effect, with one study showing an association between higher water intake and improved mood. You can encourage yourself to drink more water by purchasing a high-quality water bottle with an attractive design and adding water enhancers to improve the flavor.
Set a daily limit for social media use.
Beyond being a huge time suck, social media can be a disaster for our mental health, particularly those with anxiety. Heaps of studies have shown a link between high social media use and anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
For a happier and less anxious mindset in 2022, set a daily time limit for your most-used social media apps. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube all have tools that limit how much time you spend on their apps. You can also download apps, such as StayFree and Offtime, to help you cut back on your social media usage.
Whether your anxiety is a minor annoyance in your life or absolutely debilitating, these New Year’s resolutions are a great way to usher in a calmer, happier new year. Just remember not to beat yourself up if you miss a day or two. Nobody’s perfect!
Having completed my Bachelor’s degree in medicine and currently pursuing a house job at a well-reputed hospital in California, I decided to utilize my spare time in sharing knowledge with others through my blog. Apart from my time spent in the medical field, I love to read fiction novels and go on long drives.