Hey Mamas! I’m sure you have goals for the year, but do they include mental health goals?
Why? Because having good mental health goals helps you be a great mother! Not only will it make your life more enjoyable on its own terms, but being mentally healthy also increases your physical health and extends your lifespan. Need help keeping track of your mental health goals? Download my FREE Mental Health Goals Tracker below!
Overall, having goals is a good start, but you need to know how to target them for your mental health.
But before all that, let’s start with some groundwork!
Foundation for Setting Mental Health Goals
The first step for anyone looking to set goals related to their mental health is understanding the basics of goal setting.
Goal setting, in general, is an important part of self-improvement. Setting specific, time-bound, challenging, measurable, and attainable goals can help you make progress in small but steady steps.
For example, if you’ve never played football before, it would be hard for you to grasp the intricacies of running a triple-option offense. You’d have an easier time just learning how not to fumble the ball—although even that can be tricky!
When you set out to learn something new, it’s important to have a grounding in the basics of what you’re trying to master.
The same is true when setting mental health goals: You need a basic knowledge of your preferences and habits and how they impact your well-being before you can begin setting long-term objectives for yourself.
Before you are ready to set a mental health goal, it’s important to have a straightforward answer to the following questions:
- Do you know what your mental health goal is? Goal setting should address a specific area of your mental health, such as your anxiety or depression.
- Do you know why you want this goal? It’s important that achieving your goal will be personally meaningful for reasons other than just doing so. This will help motivate you when things get difficult.
- Do you know how to achieve your goal? If not, do some research and talk with medical professionals about the process. How might they recommend going about pursuing your particular goal?
- Do you know what it will take to achieve this goal? Be honest with yourself about the time and effort that achieving your mental health goals will require daily. How many times per week would you need to go for runs or do yoga in order to reach that next level of fitness?
Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals
To be more successful in reaching your goals, it’s important to use the SMART method. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Let’s break down each aspect of a S.M.A.R.T. goal:
Your goal should be clear and concise, so you know exactly what you’re aiming for when trying to achieve it.
For example, saying “I want to be healthier” is too vague. It also and doesn’t tell you anything about what health means for you or how to achieve it. Instead of using the word “healthier,” try something like “I will lose 10 pounds in three months.”
This goal gives both a time frame and a specific action that is taken toward achieving the goal: reducing caloric intake and exercising more.
If a goal is not measurable, it’s hard to know if you’ve reached it or how much progress you’ve made toward reaching it. You can’t be sure if your efforts are paying off—or even what “paying off” looks like.
Consider this example: “I want to lose weight.” That’s a great goal! But let’s look at one way we could make it more effective by turning it into something measurable: “I want to lose 20 pounds.”
This goal is more specific because it specifies the amount of weight you plan on losing (20 pounds). In turn, when you set out with this goal in mind, you’ll have an idea of whether your efforts are paying off depending on whether or not they move the needle on your scale.
Your goal should require effort, but not impossible levels of difficulty. Take small steps. Don’t expect too much from yourself at first; instead, set simple goals that build on each other as time goes on.
For example, say your goal is “I want to work out three times a week.” First off: great! Now make it more attainable for yourself by narrowing down those days of exercise (maybe Monday/Wednesday/Friday) and setting aside one hour per day for working out (on top of whatever other commitments you have).
Then see how well this works for several weeks before trying something new (like going three times per week instead). As long as it’s challenging yet achievable enough not to discourage or overwhelm me – then I’m happy with my progress!
It’s important that each of your goals aligns with what matters most in your life.
Before you start, it’s important to figure out what your problem is. What are you trying to improve? Is it stress? Depression? Anxiety?
Whatever it is, make sure you’ve defined the issue fully and specifically before trying to implement any solutions.
A time-bound goal is one that has a clear end point. It will require you to take action, but the outcome of your efforts will be determined by the clock, not by some other factor.
Time-bound goals can help you stay motivated and focused, see how far you’ve come, and make a plan for the future.
Achieving any goal requires motivation and dedication, but when we give ourselves deadlines and milestones along the way it helps us stay focused and keep ourselves accountable for achieving our goals.
How to Set Mental Health Goals
- Have Good Reasons for Setting a Goal
If you don’t have a compelling reason for working towards your goal, you won’t be able to reach it. You must have a good reason for setting the goal, if you want to get there.
- Define Your Mental Health Goals
The first step is to define what your intended outcome is. Whether it’s making more money or finding a better job, the first step is defining the big picture of what that means to you and what steps might help you get there.
- Define What You Need To Do To Achieve Your Mental Health Goals
The second step is figuring out what actions you need to take in order to achieve that end result. This might be taking classes or getting certifications or other things that will help further your career goals.
- Define What You Need To Do To Overcome Challenges
Once you have your plan in place, look at potential obstacles and figure out how they can be overcome so that they don’t hinder your efforts towards reaching your goal. If there are roadblocks along the way, find ways around them or make contingency plans that will allow you to stay on track despite some fires along the way.
If you would like tips to assist you with navigating your mental health, read my Mental Health Tips article!
Mental Health Goals Examples
- Reduce stress
- Manage worry
- Control anger
- Improve relationships
- Improve self-esteem
- Improve sleep
- Improve concentration
I also highly recommend keeping a mental health journal. Here are a few I recommend:
Some Tips for Setting Mental Health Goals
- Don’t overwhelm yourself. A goal should take a few months to achieve, not a few weeks or days. It’s a good idea to set more than one goal at any given time, but don’t focus on more than two or three at once.
- Start small. If you’re new to the process of setting goals for your mental health, start with something easy and work up from there. For example, if you tend to feel really anxious when driving in the rain, start by going on one short drive during a rainy day. Once you’ve achieved that goal, try another 10-minute drive in the rain and so on until you’re able to drive in it for as long as necessary without panicking.
- Be realistic in your expectations. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and feelings of failure when they aren’t met—and this can contribute to depression and anxiety rather than help improve them! Remember that you have control over whether or not your goals will be met; it’s up to you how much time and effort you put into reaching them!
- Set short term and long term mental health goals. For example, if you want to exercise more often to boost your mood, set a weekly goal (such as “exercise at least 3 days this week”) and a longer-term goal (such as “exercise at least 3 days per week for the next three months”).