While experiencing mental health symptoms, it is hard to look forward. To overcome the feelings associated with depression, anxiety, or stress, it’s necessary to look ahead positively. One way to achieve this is goal setting. It’s important to write about goals, make plans to reach them, and work toward fulfilling them.
Working toward and reaching goals can be instrumental in improving your attitude, which can be beneficial in all phases of mental health recovery. Goals give you something to look forward to. When they are fulfilled, this creates a sense of accomplishment, your confidence increases, and your mental health symptoms decrease.
Keep It Simple
Goals can be daunting and overwhelming. If you’re not ready to seek your dream job, start a family, or enroll in higher education, that’s okay. Although these are good things to work toward in life, they don’t happen overnight, and sometimes dwelling on long-term goals can make recovery more challenging.
To avoid getting overwhelmed and exacerbating stress, depression, or anxiety, think of goals that are reachable and accessible. Decide what is missing from your life. Consider the things that would help you if you include them. What do you want and need to work on?
You can commit to simple goals that enhance your physical or mental health and sense of wellbeing. You can also strive for creating rewarding experiences. Examples of simple goals include:
- Spend more time with friends and family
- Organize a room or area in your home
- Help others through service or volunteering
- Enhance spirituality
- Plan a weekend getaway or vacation
- Take medication as directed
- Exercise regularly
- Practice mindfulness through meditation
- Improve sleep hygiene
- Be more social
- Improve diet
Working toward anything that improves your life or your perspective is a good goal. Having said that, reaching a goal is important, but without a plan to fulfill it – and associated action – words don’t mean much.
Making a Plan: Write It Down
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, productivity experts recommend setting SMART goals. Make sure that your goals fulfill the following criteria:
Writing goals down makes them more concrete, and you are more likely to follow through with pursuing them. It also gives you something to refer to as you proceed. A daily review of written goals inspires you and helps keep them at the forefront of your mind.
Suppose your goal is to spend more time with your family. To make this a more specific goal, consider the following: Are there specific family members you do or don’t want to spend time with? How much time each day, week or month do you want to spend with family? Is this a realistic goal? Will you all have the time to do this? By what deadline do you want to fulfill this goal?
A plausible initial goal might read as follows:
By [insert date], I will talk with my parents and grandmother about spending an hour with them twice every month.
You can create subsequent goals relating to when, where, and how you will spend time with your family. Make sure to follow the SMART goal format with each goal and to write it down.
Narrowing a Complex Goal
Goals such as improving your diet and losing weight are much easier said than done. In these cases, don’t hesitate to chart periodic expectations or progress. Short-term goals are a good place to start. For instance, wanting to lose 50 pounds is a great goal. However, there is more to it than simply stating it, and it takes a lot of planning to execute it.
Questions to consider during the planning phase include: Over what period of time would you like to lose the weight? Six months? Over a year? Are there increments of weight you can include in your plan? For example, maybe you find it most realistic to lose 50 pounds in nine months. Part of your goal might be to lose four to six pounds a month. How do you plan to do so? Diet? Exercise? Both? Goals and plans for the method of losing weight might also be in order.
If your goal seems to become too complex, scale it back. Maybe at first, you want to work on improving your diet. Speak with your doctor and/or dietician for assistance. Also, talk with your doctor about how and when to incorporate exercise. Weight loss should be a long-term, healthy process.
Again, keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself or plan for more than you are ready to accomplish. Your initial goal might read as follows: “By (insert date) I will speak with my doctor about the best weight loss options, such as diet and exercise.” There is no need to plan out your entire weight loss plan right away. Take it a step at a time.
Sometimes, we wish our lives were better. This is especially true when we want to escape mental health issues like depression, stress, and anxiety. We might wish for broad improvements and instant results. This can be overwhelming and paralyzing, making us feel like there is no escape from the harsh symptoms of mental illness. Goal setting breaks daunting ambitions into smaller, workable steps. Keeping goals simple and reachable is critical for your recovery. Experts recommend SMART goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound. It is best to plan and write down goals, rather than simply stating them. Setting goals, working toward them, and accomplishing them increases confidence and helps us to look forward and work toward avoiding periods of mental distress. Achieve Concierge is empathetic to your need to heal mentally. Our expert mental health services are specialized, comprehensive, and confidential. Reach out to us today by calling (858) 221-0344.