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How Setting Goals Can Positively Impact Your Mental Health

You don’t have to wait for January to think about making changes. Any time of the year, setting even small goals for mental health can help you make great strides toward improved quality of life.

Benefits of Goals for Mental Health

When things are going well, it’s easy to take your mental health for granted. When you’re struggling, it can feel as though you’ve lost control. In either case, you might feel like there’s nothing you could (or should) do to change things.

These are misconceptions. Though you can’t achieve better psychological well-being through willpower alone, there are some valuable steps you can take to build resilience. One of these steps is setting appropriate mental health goals for yourself.

Here are a few examples of the many potential benefits of establishing goals for mental health:

  • Prioritization: The act of setting goals for mental health requires you to take an honest look at where you are today, where you hope to be in the future, and how you intend to get there. The goal-setting process also forces you to establish priorities, which can help you eliminate unhealthy distractions so you can focus on what’s most important to you.
  • Direction: Goals help you take small steps toward a larger objective. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead of you, or you’re confused about what you should do next, your goals can serve as a detailed roadmap to the future you hope to attain. 
  • Motivation: On days when you’re inclined to make an unhealthy decision, reflecting on your goals can help you make a better choice. Over time, this can turn your goal-oriented behaviors into habits, which will make them easier to accomplish.
  • Success: When you create measurable goals (which we’ll discuss in greater detail in the next section), you can chart your progress. In addition to showing you how close you are to achieving a goal, this can also help you see how much progress you’ve already made. Every step in the right direction is a small success and a reminder that you are capable of accomplishing more than you may realize.

Tips for Setting Goals for Mental Health

When you’re setting goals for your mental health (or for any other aspect of your life), take the time to make sure they meet certain criteria. The additional effort that you put into crafting your goals can pay off by increasing the likelihood that they will add value to your life.

  • Is it achievable? Goals should push you a bit, but they shouldn’t be overwhelming. If your goals are unrealistic, there’s a good chance that you’ll quickly become frustrated and abandon the effort. When you set smaller, more achievable goals, you will be more likely to see them through. These initial successes can set you up for long-term progress.
  • Is it measurable? If you don’t have a way to measure what you’re doing, you can’t track your progress or know when you’ve achieved your goal. Measurements can take vague hopes (such as “I should start walking more often”) and turn them into actionable objectives (such as “My goal is to go for at least three walks before work every week.”)
  • Is it meaningful? To be more precise, this question should read, “Is it meaningful to you?” You’re unlikely to make sustainable changes in your life if you don’t see the value in what you’re doing. Conversely, if your goals have personal significance, it will be much more difficult for people, events, or circumstances to dissuade you from achieving them.

Examples of Goals for Mental Health

OK. We’ve talked about why you should set mental health goals, and we’ve discussed how to set good goals. Now it’s time to review what an appropriate, meaningful mental health goal looks like.

It may be surprising to realize that most mental health goals don’t directly discuss mental health. Instead, they are lifestyle objectives that focus on areas that can have a significant impact on your mental health, such as exercising, eating well, practicing mindfulness, and staying connected with others.

Here are 10 examples of goals for mental health:

  1. Take at least three 30-minute walks each week. 
  2. Write in my journal at least twice a week.
  3. Call, text, or email a friend at least once every week.
  4. Get together in person with a friend or family member at least once a month.
  5. Don’t eat fast food more than five times per month.
  6. Meditate for 15 minutes at least five days per week.
  7. Limit my time on social media to a maximum of 15 minutes per day.
  8. Go to bed by 10 p.m. every night.
  9. Find at least one thing to be grateful for every day.
  10. Attend at least one therapy session every month.

You may have noticed that each of these goals has at least one measurement. In most cases, the measurements are based on how often you engage in the desired activity. As we noted earlier, this can help you develop healthier habits.

You may also have noticed that most of these goals don’t require daily adherence. It’s important to avoid all-or-nothing goals like that whenever possible – because once you’ve missed a day, you may feel like you’ve failed, which can diminish your desire to keep working toward that goal. 

Also, every one of these goals is adaptable. For example, you may want to change the walking goal from a specific time to a specific distance. Or, at first, you may simply want to set a goal of getting out for a walk of any length (or taking part in another activity) a certain number of times per week. 

As you work on these goals, you may adjust them up or down to make sure they’re providing you with appropriate motivation, pushing you to improve, and (most importantly) enhancing your mental health.

Find Mental Health Treatment in Atlanta

If your efforts to achieve your mental health goals have been undermined by anxiety, depression, or another psychological disorder, it may be time to think about professional help. 

Peachtree Wellness Solutions is a respected provider of customized mental health services for adults in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. Our continuum of care includes residential and outpatient options, and all of our programs are staffed by teams of skilled and compassionate caregivers. Working together, we can identify the root causes of your struggles and put you back on the path toward a healthier and more hopeful future.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.