The year 2016 has been a rough one for me personally, and I know it has been for many others as well. Among the many things that have been going on in my life this year, I know I haven’t taken care of my mental health or dealt with my anxiety as much as I should have.
While I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, in 2017 there are a few things I need to work on to try and make it a better year for my metal health. These are the top three goals I want to work on in the coming year.
1. Reach out more and ask for help
One thing I struggle with a lot as a person with anxiety is opening up to others about how I’m feeling. Even when I am having a particularly difficult time with my anxiety and I know that I could use help, I still typically opt to keep these feelings to myself. I’m not sure why I have this tendency to downplay my feelings and keep my struggles quiet, but I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. I don’t even like to talk about these things with family or close friends. I think it has a lot to do with not wanting to seem “weak,” or worrying that I will be judged negatively.
I know, logically, that my family and friends would be supportive if I reached out to them, and when I have in the past I have never been met with judgment or criticism. I also know that creating a support system is crucial when dealing with a mental illness. So this year, I want to try harder to reach out to those close to me and ask for help and support when I need it.
2. Forgive myself.
My anxiety makes me incredibly hard on myself a lot of the time. I know that I am overly critical toward myself for things I have done in the past and I dwell on mistakes way past the point of being helpful. I also get a lot of anxiety whenever I feel like I’m not doing enough, not working hard enough or accomplishing things fast enough. I start to worry that I’m not meeting goals that I’ve set for myself as quickly as I would like, and then my mind takes that and spins it into thoughts like, “Well, you haven’t even managed to complete this one goal yet, so obviously your career will never work out and you’re going to be a failure. And also you’ll die alone.”
These negative thoughts make it hard to move forward, because instead of focusing on what needs to be done, I’m focused on the anxiety. And when the anxiety feels like it’s holding me back, I get more anxious and more critical of myself. This year, I want to be less hard on myself, understand that my life isn’t on a path of failure, and forgive myself for the times that anxiety has consumed me and made it hard for me to move forward.
3. Take things one day at a time.
A big source of my anxiety is worries about the future. What am I going to do next month, next year, five years from now? I get so anxious about what’s going to happen in the future that sometimes it paralyzes me and makes it impossible to make decisions about what is happening now. It makes it hard for me to be present in the moment, because I am constantly thinking about what comes next. In 2017, I want to work on taking things one day at a time, appreciating the here and now and not letting fear of the future keep me from living in the present.
While dealing with anxiety and working toward better mental health isn’t easy, I know that it’s worth it. I hope anyone else who is resolving to work on their mental health in the coming year find the strength that they need to do it. Here’s to hoping that 2017 is kinder to us all.
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