Exercise more. Eat healthier. Spend less. These are typically the most common new year’s resolutions we hear from family and friends. But, it’s encouraging to see that GenZ’ers are ranking “improving their mental health” as a top resolution as we head into 2023. Mental health matters as much as physical health and there’s a much-needed generational shift happening when it comes to thinking about overall wellness.
At Daybreak, we work with our young clients daily on how to build the skills they need to become—and stay—mentally healthy. Here are some helpful ideas to practice throughout 2023 for your mental well-being.
- Embrace acceptance. Ever seen those Chinese finger traps? The ones where you instinctively pull your fingers outward but the trap just gets tighter and tighter? Sometimes that’s how challenging moments can feel. No matter how hard you try, it feels like the situation isn’t getting better. Instead, try to relax, just name the circumstance you’re in and rethink what the best next steps are. Don’t throw judgment at the problem and give yourself space and self-acceptance to figure out the challenge (or just be in it for a while).
- Find meaning. Happiness is an emotion that comes and goes. What people are really looking for in their lives is meaning and satisfaction. Having that sense of meaning allows you to persevere through things that don’t necessarily make you feel happy because you know WHY you’re doing them. This can often be hard for young people because they are frequently chasing the “high” as opposed to centering around something closer to contentment that comes with longer term satisfaction. Oftentimes, giving back and contributing to your community by volunteering, participating in student government, helping at the community garden, etc. can provide the meaning or connection you’re looking for. This takes work, and your values/meaning may shift over a lifetime. Need help with where to start? Try a values inventory or work to identify what you feel is “important” in your life.
- Move. For fun. A lot of times we move our bodies because we feel like we “have” to. What about finding a way to move that you love? Dance with your friends. Take a walk in the woods. Play with the toddlers in your life…they never stop! Whatever it is that you enjoy, find the time to move your body because it makes us feel mentally healthier.
- Tear up the “perfect picture.” Social media has played the villain's role in what we think will make us happy. This idea of “if I have X”, then my life will be perfect is so incredibly flawed. It is okay to have goals but they can’t be the key to satisfaction (spoiler alert: even if you get something close to that picture, it doesn’t lead to lasting happiness–you’ll just find the next “perfect” thing you don’t have). Everything comes with flaws, and you can still find joy in the imperfections.Trying, growing, improving should include the ability to be happy/content in the process. Allow yourself to feel good while still in growth. This is related to points 1, 2 and 5 as well. Having these elements will help with this.
- Practice gratitude. You’ve probably heard of this concept before, but don’t just list the things in your life that are awesome. Instead, get specific about the moments you are grateful for and think about the whole experience. Who were the people who were a part of that experience? What made it so great? How did you feel? What was your role in creating that moment? By visualizing and getting detail-oriented about these moments, you’ll create the mental space to reflect on it and really think about the connections and feelings that made those positive moments and your role in making it so great.
Our hope is that young people will continue to prioritize their mental wellness in 2023 and beyond. If you or a loved one needs mental health support, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Daybreak team.