As one year ends, it’s important to take stock. That New Year’s resolution will never stick if you don’t. So here are some questions to ask yourself about your mental health, your relationships, and your future. Ready, set, go! (as my almost three-year-old loves to say.)
1) What’s my baseline mood state?
On a typical day, are you feeling reasonably good? Or are you depressed, anxious, irritable, etc.? Sometimes we stop even noticing what we’re feeling because we assume that it’s normal for us. We might stop talking to others about it, fearing that they’re tired of hearing it.
It might be time for you to work on what’s bothering you–either through self-reflection, conversation with others, self-help books, or work with a therapist–rather than assuming that’s the best you can do.
2) This year, did I love others the best I could? Did I feel loved in return?
Our relationships are the cornerstone of our mental health. If you answered “yes” to that, you’re probably feeling pretty good about your life. If you answered no about loving others, it might be because you weren’t feeling so great about yourself. Poor self-esteem can make it harder to give the love we want.
If you’re feeling isolated and alone, odds are good you’re feeling depressed. The rub is, it’s hard to meet people and build the relationships you want if you are depressed. Finding your way out of that conundrum might be the key to your happiness in 2015.
3) Am I fulfilled?
This is different from happiness, which is a mood state that goes up and down. Fulfillment and contentment are more lasting experiences–almost like happiness is a carb and fulfillment is the protein.
Fulfillment tends to come from engaging deeply in something. It might be your job, or maybe your job is just a way to pay the bills and your true fulfillment comes from a creative pursuit, or from volunteering or socializing or some other form of engagement. But truly caring and being present is a key ingredient.
4) Do I feel appreciated or taken for granted? Do I speak up when it’s the latter?
Saying what you want and need is essential for your mental health. You don’t have to be demanding or entitled about it; you can do it in a way that respects those around you. People who lack assertiveness skills are more prone to anxiety and depression, as well as dissatisfaction with their relationships.
5) Am I able to delay gratification in order to reach long-term goals?
Sometimes the short-term gets in the way of the long-term. Patience and impulse control will take you far. You might need to break your larger goals into smaller ones that feel more attainable, but are cumulative. This requires organization and planning, but that’s why we’re thinking about this now, before 2015 has even started.
By answering these questions, hopefully you’ve got a blueprint for what’s good and should be appreciated, and what needs to change.