The WellSpan Spotlight

Mental health and wellbeing

Resolve for improved mental health in the new year

Resolve for improved mental health in the new year

When the calendar flips to a new year, many people resolve to do something better or differently. Focusing on mental health is just as important as focusing on weight loss, fitness, or finances.

Dr. Shannon Gordon, vice president of WellSpan Health's behavioral health network, says small, positive changes can dramatically change your life, while improvements to mental health can impact your overall health and wellness.

Here are some goals for the new year, as recommended by Dr. Gordon:

  • Commit to being active each day. If joining a gym or creating a home gym will not work, get out and walk more. Exercise can serve as an antidepressant and can improve your sleep. 

  • Learn to relax and meditate to help reduce your stress levels. Meditation helps you pause from the pressures in your day. There are many online apps that show you how to meditate for only a few minutes at a time.

  • Get into a sleep routine. Poor sleep habits can play a role in depression. Anxiety can interfere with sleep. The best way to improve sleep is to be consistent with bedtime and the time you wake up. 

  • Try a new hobby. Mastering a new hobby or becoming more proficient in an existing one can help you feel better about yourself. 

  • Take a social media break. Social media can cause stress and anxiety, especially if you compare yourself to how others appear to be living their lives. Take breaks from social media throughout the day and stop checking your feeds a few hours before bedtime. 

  • Keep track of what you do. To help you stop worrying about everything that needs to be accomplished each day, write it all down. Record your daily activities and work, and the amount of time it takes you to complete everything. It is less overwhelming this way. 

  • Record your thoughts. Write down what you are thinking about, including things you feel good about as well as concerns and worries, in a personal journal. This strategy helps to reduce overthinking, reduces insomnia, and helps to alleviate stress.

  • Pay it forward. Helping others gets your focus away from your troubles as you build relationships and connect with people. This includes something as simple as helping a friend or, perhaps, volunteering in your community. 

  • Be grateful for what is good in your life. Pay attention to even the little things for which you can be grateful for each day. This also helps reduce stress and anxiety. 

  • Take it easy on yourself. Select some of these approaches and give yourself time for them to work. Be realistic about your progress and realize that each of us is a work in progress. After a few weeks, evaluate what works, and what may need to be adjusted.

WellSpan is here to assist you as a trusted partner to improve your emotional health. If you need help, please call the WellSpan Philhaven Access Center at 800-932-0359 or visit The center is open 24/7 every day of the year.