6 Mental Health Exercises to Get 2020 Off to a Great Start

In Partnership with FIKAon 6 January 2020

Our friends at FIKA have put together some handy tips for you to practice mindfulness to get your 2020 off to the best possible start.

1. What were you grateful for in 2019?

Regularly reflecting on things you’re thankful for is really good for your physical and psychological health. It improves cardiovascular and immune function and reduces the damaging effect of stress on the body. So, spend some time thinking about what you had to be grateful for in 2019.

But please don’t stress about it if things don’t easily come to mind… it really doesn’t need to be ‘big things’ - it’s often the small stuff that matters most.

Try thinking about the people you've met, your studies or things you’re seen and experienced. 

And then ask yourself, what are you grateful for and how does it make you feel?

If the good memories are really flowing, then maybe grab a pen and paper and free-write about all the stuff you had to be grateful for in 2019.

2. How did you develop in 2019?

The new year is a great time to set yourself some goals. But, before doing that, it’s a really good idea to think about where you currently are and how you developed in 2019. This helps you to set realistic goals. 

As you went through 2019, you’ll have acquired new knowledge, faced challenges and setbacks, learned new behaviours and discovered things about yourself. 

So, take some time now to really reflect on what you learned and how you’ve developed. 

What key skills have you improved? They might be academic skills (or not!) but they could also be social, practical, sporting, life skills… anything!

What did you overcome - and what did that teach you?

And how will you use what you’ve learned and build on it in 2020?

3. Set some achievable goals for 2020

Did you know… 92% of New Year’s goals and resolutions we set ourselves will fail by January 15th? But why is that? Well, maybe you set goals that you didn’t truly want to achieve in the first place. Or maybe it was a goal that was actually set by someone else, which didn’t align with your values. Or maybe you didn’t commit to the goal strongly enough and follow through with clear actions. 

Another reason that New Year’s resolutions can be doomed to failure is that they don’t really align to where you see yourself in a year’s time.

So, what we’re getting at here is that goals and resolutions can be a really useful and valuable thing to set at any time of the year - but it’s worth giving it some proper thought and focus before you commit to something that’s probably doomed to failure.

So ask yourself these three questions… 

  1. What do you want to achieve in different aspects of your life by the end of this year? (Think about your personal goals, academic goals, health goals, fitness goals, cause-related goals and work-related goals.)
  2. Are these goals realistic?
  3. What specific actions do you need to commit to, to make these goals a reality?

And then - once you have a clear idea of some achievable and specific goals, also bear in mind that you’re 50% more likely to achieve these goals if you write them down (but less than 3% of people do that!). 

So, why not get writing? 

Another powerful tool to give you a better chance of success is to tell other people about your goals.

4. Hey! But don’t forget to be nice to YOU...

If it feels like the world goes a little ‘NEW YEAR - NEW YOU!’ crazy around this time… well yeah, it does. So it’s important to find a balance between making the new year a good opportunity to review, reflect and plan along with giving yourself a whole heap of self-love.  

So while it’s great to dissect 2019 and set your sights on a perfect 2020, it’s also dead important to make sure you’re giving yourself what you need right now. 

And we recommend giving yourself plenty of patience and self-kindness and just generally treating yourself as you would a best friend. 

If you’ve never tried, then maybe now is a good time to learn to be a little more mindful - by noticing how you’re feeling - and also noticing what your internal voice is saying.

Are you talking kindly to yourself? Or are you being somewhat mean and picky?

If you discover that your internal voice isn’t being as kind as it might be, then take a moment now to turn your attention to one thing that you’re proud of. And dwell on it for a few moments. And see how that feels.

5. Get your social media under control in 2020

The average social media user in the UK spends nearly 2 hours on it, every day.

And if you’re one of the small percentage of UK adults who has it all under control then please feel free to skip this section…

Still here? Ok. Then maybe it’s time to consider if you want to make any changes to your social media use in 2020 so you can be happier and more productive.

There’s no doubt that social media can be a great way to stay in touch with people. However, when we use social media it’s really good practice to do so as mindfully as possible. 

Research shows that excessive social media use, following lots of strangers and negatively comparing ourselves with others can have a detrimental effect on our emotional wellbeing. 

It can also be really useful to remind yourself that people will always present a specific image of themselves that they want others to see. So comparing yourself to these images isn’t logical. 

If you can, take some time to think about how you use social media. 

  • How does it make you feel and what are your motivations for using it? 
  • Are there any changes that you’d like to make? 
  • Perhaps you’d like to use it less - or maybe you’d benefit from being more selective about who you choose to follow and interact with. 
  • Would you benefit from setting a social media curfew each evening to give you some time to clear your mind before you sleep?
  • Or how about taking one day off per week?

6. Try something new

It’s easy to get stuck in our comfort zone but that can slow down our development.

And while our comfort zone can feel quite, well, comfortable… it can limit our creativity and make us more prone to stress. And trying new things also makes us better able to cope with new and uncertain situations as we become more psychologically flexible.

So take some time to think about something new that you’re going to try this year.

Now this something new doesn’t have to be something big. You might just want to make a small change to your daily routine. Or maybe you’d like to learn something new or join a new club or society.

And once you’re chosen something, take a few moments to really visualise what you intend to do. Actually see yourself doing it.

About Fika

Fika is a new app for students, designed to improve your performance and employability whilst at university and beyond.

Fika is an app co-created with 1000s of students, psychologists and Olympic athletes to increase your motivation, sharpen your focus, boost your confidence, strengthen your relationships and make you better able to manage anxiety and stress.

In Partnership with FIKAon 6 January 2020