Feel happier in 2020 with these psychologist approved life tweaks

Psychologist Nancy Sokarno reveals why your New Year’s resolutions should be about so much more than diet and exercise.

Hands up if your New Year’s resolution was to get washboard abs like J. Lo or Shakira? Or maybe you vowed to finally try the Sirtfood Diet like Adele – or maybe you ditched resolutions altogether? While your mission to build a stronger body is a worthy cause, making a commitment to your mental health might be an even better one.

“Your mental health is the driving force behind anything and everything in your life,” explained Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno.

“If you don’t fine-tune the engine, then everything else fails you,” she added, which is why she decided to make 2020 the year she focused on feeling happier.

“I’m making my mental health a top priority to avoid burnout, better regulate my emotions and help build positive coping mechanisms,” she explained.

Here, Sokarno shares the five simple things she’s changing this year to become her healthiest, happiest self yet and how you can do it too.

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1. I’m prioritising my time

“I’ve always been one to work well under pressure. I stress myself out by putting too many things on my plate, so this year I’ve added a ‘why’ category to my to-do list. It’s allowing me to see the intrinsic motivators behind the tasks that need to be done, which helps me prioritise more appropriately.”

2. I’m learning to say no

“I’m someone who always wants to get everything done so sometimes I land myself in situations that I haven’t completely thought through. To help manage this, I’m tweaking my ‘yes’ response to ‘I’ll let you know’ whenever I’m asked to take on something new. It pushes me to really assess my capacity to commit to something, ensures I’m not overwhelmed and allows me to do things with 100% effort.”

3. I’m not flaking on exercise

“Excuses are loud when it comes to exercise, especially because I work long hours! I know that I have clarity and a boost of mental energy after I exercise though, so I’ve used this knowledge – and my desire to be on my A-game during sessions – to motivate my workouts. It ensures I work at my optimum, and that’s my driving force.”

4. I’m building (healthy) boundaries

“Vocalising my boundaries to others ensures that I’m setting basic guidelines on how I would like to be treated. This helps me have more effective communication and healthier relationships with the people around me. It’s important that my relationships are mutually respectful.”

5. I’m not taking work home

“I’ve implemented a clear divide between work and play so I’m doing my best to get things done at the office and not take on more than I can handle. This means I can prioritise self-care and socialising with friends once I clock off, which is important because I need to recharge as well.”