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  • Writer's pictureToni Therrien

N​ew Year's Resolutions and Your Mental Health

A​re New Year's resolutions really good for us? We always have good intentions. We want to fix something in our lives, we want to feel more fulfilled, and a goal is certainly a good way to do it. But are we adding extra pressure we don't need? I've compiled a few helpful ideas, both resolutions and what I'll call "anti-resolutions," to re-frame the idea.

Quality Time

I​ noticed recently that my teenage boys and I spend a lot of time in the car and at home

basically ignoring each other. We're all doing our own thing. I've made an effort to take even 5-10 minutes to go sit by them, ask them about the video game they're playing even though I don't understand a word of it. Sometimes letting a child talk about their interests opens them up and suddenly they are actually telling you about their day instead of saying "nothing" or "I don't remember" every time you ask.

Keep it groovy

Music has been proven to help mood. Throw your earbuds in while you're working, vacuuming, cooking, … but maybe switch from true crime podcasts to the music you listened to in high school. Studies show that upbeat music increases motivation by 10%, and increases endurance both mentally and physically. It also makes the time go by more quickly. (I read a few research studies about how music 'hijacks' the brain's notion of time and how we perceive time in general,... it was fascinating, yet somehow also super boring, so I decided to leave it out. Just trust me on this one.)


Over the years, my tight-knit group of friends has gone from seeing each other at least once a week to maybe once a month if we're lucky, and rarely all of us together. It was easy before kids. When they were little, their friends were just my friends' kids. However, as our careers and kids have grown, it's been more and more difficult. Study after study reveals that having friends is the #1 indicator of a long life before exercise, diet, and even smoking. Send a group text and start talking dates. Even if the date is two months from now, get it on the calendar. Then schedule the next one while you're together. As long as something is always on the calendar, you'll feel more connected and have something to look forward to. A quick escape. Pro-tip: If you can host at home, do it. My gals always have more fun when we hang at someone's house. No waiters, no loud restaurants, no complaints of us being too loud. Even if a teenager walks through the living room mumbling and rolling their eyes, it's still better.

S​ay No

As Phoebe from Friends once said: "Oh I would, but I don't want to." If only everyone could get away with that. Many of us struggle with saying no. Whether it's because we don't like confrontation, or maybe everything sounds fun when it's presented but later you realize it will be a struggle to fit it on the calendar. Or maybe, like Phoebe, you just don't want to. So how do you start saying no? First, be gracious. Second, be clear. Wishy-washy replies will encourage the other person to keep asking or trying to convince you. Learning to say no takes time and practice. And remember, "No." is a complete sentence.

Go Outside

I'll be honest, I've gone days where the only time I spend outside is when I open the door to get my Grubhub order. Many people work from home now, you can get pretty much anything delivered, it's easy to forget there is a whole world out there. The vitamin D we get from the sun helps us absorb calcium, and reduce inflammation and risk of cancer, but it's not all about the vitamin D, it's about mental health too. Eat lunch outside, drink your morning coffee on the patio, splash in puddles when it's raining, walk really, really slowly to your car after work. Find a place in your day to acknowledge the sky.

F​or 2023, I hope you find peace, joy, sunshine, and most of all, laughs.

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