It's that time of year again. The time when we promise to eat healthier, be nicer to people, drink less alcohol, and a myriad of other things that we forget about around February. We call them "Resolutions" , things that we tell everybody about to make us feel betters about ourselves. Why do we make resolutions for ourselves at the start of the year? Here are a few of my theories:
As the most advance species on Earth, we love the fact that we can plan ahead in the future. We give ourselves 365 days to complete a goal (the resolution). We can plan to wear a bikini by the summer, or go from smoking 6 cigarettes a day to smoking 2 by May.
As social creatures, we love to talk about things that many other people are talking about as well. That's why gyms offer reduced memberships at the start of the year because they know a bunch of people are going to flock to their local gym to begin their resolution. When you walk into that gym in January and see everyone else in there working on the same goal that you are, you feel great.
And THAT is why we don't hear people setting mental health resolutions for themselves. Mental health issues are the factors about us that we keep close to the heart. The embarrassing things that we cover up by uploading a picture on social media with a filter so we can get a lot of likes. Can you imagine if someone said "This year I'm going to stop letting people bully me at work. I'm going to stand up for myself more." Now, to me this is a great resolution to create for yourself. Especially in the cutthroat corporate world where the most educated or most liked in the workplace seem to pray on others.
In my opinion the reason we don't talk about these things is because we risk embarrassment. Can you imagine the reaction said employee would have in the workplace if they said this in a meeting? His or her coworkers would probably laugh them out of the office and their manager may seem the employee as "too weak" to be promoted into a leadership role.
IN MY OPINION THE BIGGEST FACTOR IN TALKING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH IS STARTING THE CONVERSATION
Mental health conversations are hard to have. However, we can't create mental health resolutions for the New Years if we don't begin the conversation. So let me be the first to create a resolution for myself and share it with you all. For 2022 I want to have important conversations with people in my life instead of "giving it to God", or just accepting excuses like "well, that's just how that person is. I had a bad habit of not saying things that matter to my family, and close friends because I was afraid to hurt the feelings of the people that are closest to me. Instead, I'd swallow my tongue and do that thing we do when we practice what we COULDA,WOULDA,SHOULDA said during the conversation.
The reason this resolution is important is because I talk to these people daily. The more I hold my tongue, the worse I feel about holding my tongue. The reason this is a resolution is because I may slip, I may forget, and it may take me the entire year to accomplish this goal. It may take someone a long time to lose 50 lbs. The resolution may have been set in January, the goal may not have been accomplished until October, but the goal was still accomplished. Now how does that relate to mental health?
There are multiple groups dedicated to the most popular resolutions like weight loss, drinking less, and or becoming a better speaker (weight watchers, AA, Toastmasters). However, when it comes to mental health, there aren't as many groups for people. Thankfully in my role as Vice President of NAMI DeKalb, I've learned more about mental health groups than ever before. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the largest grassroots mental health in the country dedicated to assisting individuals and the family members of individuals suffering from mental illness. You can find your local NAMI Chapter by visiting the NAMI website and searching your zip code for the branch nearest you.
Unlike others that you may see that post or talk about their New Year Resolution online, you don't have to tell anyone about yours if you don't want to. However, when you find others who are facing the same challenges you are, they maybe willing to support you on your journey to become a better person.
You mind find one other person, you may find 10. No matter the number, setting the resolution and getting started on it is your first step in become a healthier person. You don't need to go through anything alone this year. Let's make Mental Health a part of our New Years Resolutions moving forward.