The past few years of living through a pandemic have been challenging, with more Americans than ever reporting stress, anxiety and depression. That's probably why many Americans say they plan to make their mental health a priority in 2023.
A recent poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) conducted in December 2022 found that almost a third of adults (29 percent) were planning to adopt New Year’s resolutions related to their mental health. That’s up three percentage points from last year.
Making mental health resolutions
A recent poll from the American Psychiatric Association found that 29 percent of Americans plan to focus on their mental health in 2023. Among the resolutions:
- 65 percent said they’d exercise more
- 45 percent said they’d meditate
- 38 percent would see a therapist
- 37 percent would focus on spirituality
- 32 percent would take a break from social media
- 28 percent would journal
- 23 percent would use a mental health app
- 21 percent would see a psychiatrist
- 6 percent would try something else
While the new year is a natural time to think about your priorities and set goals, anytime is a good time to make changes that can improve your mental health, experts say.
In fact, it’s probably best not to set sweeping “resolutions” that could be tough to achieve, says Amy Morin, a Florida-based psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. Smaller goals are more likely to stick, she says.
“You are better off thinking of habits you want to switch,” Morin says. “What are some small changes you can incorporate into your life?”
Here are some research-based strategies to boost your mental health that are easy to incorporate into your routine, no matter the time of year.
1. Move every day
Even when talking about mental health, you can’t get away from exercise. Regular physical activity is strongly linked to better mental health, says APA President Rebecca W. Brendel, M.D., a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.
“We know that when we begin aerobic exercise, our hearts pump faster, our lungs breathe a little heavier and our body produces chemicals known as endorphins, which can reduce anxiety, elevate our mood and even help us focus more,” Brendel says.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean a grueling workout at the gym. Gardening, dancing and hiking all count. So, sign up for a yoga class, invite a friend to join you for a walk or do a few squats or pushups while you’re watching TV.
2. Make gratitude a daily practice
Practicing gratitude regularly is a simple and easy way to change your mindset for the better, Morin says. And it takes only a few minutes a day.
Research shows people who consciously count their blessings are happier, more resilient and more confident. They have stronger relationships and even live longer, Morin adds.