Mental health is a key element of our well-being, but taking care of ourselves can be challenging due to life’s many demands. SMART goals are an effective tool to prioritize mental health and create positive change in our lives.
With the examples listed below, you can set SMART goals tailored to your specific needs and situations. You’ll be able to start improving your mental health immediately.
What is a SMART Goal?
The SMART framework will enable you to set practical goals for improving your mental health. SMART is an acronym standing for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.
Do you want more clarity? Here is a deeper dive into each SMART component:
The more specific your goals are, the more likely you’ll succeed. Instead of “I want to feel better,” you could try, “I will practice self-care by writing in my gratitude journal for 15 minutes daily.” You’ll gain clarity instead of leaving it open-ended, which can make you feel defeated when encountering failure.
The ability to quantify progress allows for tangible evidence of improvement or decline in certain areas. It also permits individuals to accurately assess the outcomes of their efforts and adjust them as needed.
Measurement is an effective motivator on the journey toward mental health and wellness, and it serves as inspiration for further achievements.
Make sure you understand your current situation and craft realistic expectations. Do research to ensure that your goal is feasible with the available resources. And if a goal seems too overwhelming, consider breaking it down into smaller steps.
Pursuing goals that are meaningful and relevant to your life is essential. This way, even when times get tough, you’re inspired by something more than just the result—you take comfort in knowing that your goals align with what matters most to you.
Outlining a specific timeline can be highly beneficial. This doesn’t have to be anything extensive—simply creating checkpoints to stay on track will help move you closer to success.
Life isn’t always perfect, so there are bound to be unexpected hiccups. Having deadlines built into your plan can ease any stress associated with them when they arise.
13 SMART Goals Examples to Improve Your Mental Health
Let’s take a look at examples of 13 SMART goals for your mental health:
1. Identify Stressors
SMART Goal: I’ll identify my stress sources and plan to manage them in the two months ahead. I’ll create triggers to help me recognize when I’m feeling overwhelmed and take the necessary steps to manage my stress levels.
- Specific: This goal outlines the plan (identify stress sources, create triggers, manage stress) and timeline (two months).
- Measurable: You could keep a journal to track your stressors and the triggers you set for yourself.
- Attainable: Identifying stressors and managing them is possible.
- Relevant: Proactively identifying and working to manage your stressors leads to improved mental health.
- Time-based: Two months are needed to accomplish this particular goal.
2. Stay Connected to Others
SMART Goal: I intend to reach out to at least three friends or family members weekly for the next two months. I will try to stay connected to them and foster meaningful relationships.
- Specific: Reaching out to three friends or family members per week is clearly outlined.
- Measurable: You could count the contacts you’ve made over time.
- Attainable: Contacting three people a week is not too difficult and can be done in many ways.
- Relevant: Staying connected to others fosters meaningful relationships and improves mental well-being.
- Time-based: Goal completion is expected after two whole months.
3. Promote Self-Care
SMART Goal: I will dedicate an hour each day to practice self-care for three months. I want to use this time for activities such as taking a nature walk, reading a book, listening to music, or doing something that relaxes me.
- Specific: The goal is clear and concise, stating the objective and how to reach it.
- Measurable: The amount of time spent on self-care can be tracked and monitored.
- Attainable: This SMART goal is achievable by setting aside an hour daily.
- Relevant: This is pertinent to mental health because it allows time to relax and unwind from daily stressors.
- Time-based: There is a three-month timeline for accomplishing success.
4. Exercise Regularly
SMART Goal: I will set aside 30 minutes three times each week to exercise. I plan to join a gym, take classes, or get outside to get my body moving. Exercise can help reduce stress and improve my overall mental health.
- Specific: The individual will set aside 30 minutes three times each week to exercise.
- Measurable: You could measure progress by attending classes or tracking how often you get outside and move.
- Attainable: Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week is doable for most people.
- Relevant: Exercising has been proven to improve mental health and reduce overall stress.
- Time-based: The goal is time-bound because you’ll set aside a specific time to exercise.
5. Practice Mindfulness
SMART Goal: To be more mindful and present in my daily life, I will practice mindfulness exercises or meditation for 10 minutes a day. I hope to become more aware and focused on my present moment to better manage stress and anxiety.
- Specific: The aim is to practice mindfulness or meditation for 10 minutes per day.
- Measurable: Keeping track of the time spent meditating will help determine progress.
- Attainable: Practicing mindfulness for 10 minutes a day is an achievable goal.
- Relevant: This suits anyone wishing to become more mindful and present.
- Time-based: You should consider this goal an ongoing effort.
6. Eat Healthy Foods
SMART Goal: I’ll make sure to have a healthy meal at least three times a week within two months. Eating nutritious foods will allow me to feel energized and better equipped to take on the day.
- Specific: You have precise actions available—eat healthy meals at least three times a week.
- Measurable: Keep track of the number of healthy meals you have per week.
- Attainable: Eating healthy is absolutely possible if you commit.
- Relevant: This goal relates to your primary objective of feeling energized and better equipped to take on the day.
- Time-based: You should anticipate goal attainment within two months.
7. Limit Technology Use
SMART Goal: I want to improve my mental health by limiting my daily use of technology. To achieve this, I’ll spend no more than two hours daily on my digital devices this month.
- Specific: The person has a well-defined objective of limiting technology usage.
- Measurable: Check your time on digital devices and ensure you don’t exceed two hours daily.
- Attainable: Minimizing technology use to two hours a day is feasible for most people.
- Relevant: Limiting technology use can have positive effects on mental health.
- Time-based: This SMART goal is to be reached within a month.
8. Get Quality Sleep
SMART Goal: I’ll strive to get 8 hours of sleep every night. I will monitor my sleeping habits and make adjustments if needed, such as reducing caffeine consumption and setting a bedtime routine. I’ll also limit any work done before bed since this can interfere with restful sleep.
- Specific: The statement is easy to understand, aiming to receive 8 hours of sleep every night.
- Measurable: You can track your sleep using a tracker or journaling.
- Attainable: This is achievable by making lifestyle changes, such as reducing caffeine and setting a bedtime routine.
- Relevant: This goal relates to mental health since getting quality sleep may reduce stress and anxiety.
- Time-based: The goal has no associated timeline, but you should view it as ongoing.
9. Explore Creative Pursuits
SMART Goal: I want to use my creativity positively to explore an art or craft form of my choice once a week for four months. Whether painting, photography, or playing an instrument, I plan to use this creative outlet to benefit my mental health.
- Specific: The goal is explicit as it describes what art or craft form to pursue.
- Measurable: You can evaluate your progress by noting how often you explore the creative pursuit.
- Attainable: Finding a creative pursuit is possible, and you can adjust the goal to fit your needs.
- Relevant: The SMART statement applies to enhancing your mental health.
- Time-based: You have four whole months to achieve success.
10. Improve Work-Life Balance
SMART Goal: I will prioritize my well-being by reducing my time working each day. In three months, I want to take breaks throughout the day, schedule necessary time off, and strictly honor my work-life balance.
- Specific: The goal outlines the person’s objective, how to reach it, and the deadline.
- Measurable: Make sure you take short breaks for relaxation throughout the day.
- Attainable: Scheduling necessary time off for yourself is within your capabilities.
- Relevant: Improving your work-life balance is essential to maintain your mental health.
- Time-based: The timeline is set at three months for goal achievement.
11. Challenge Unhealthy Thinking Patterns
SMART Goal: I will challenge any unhealthy thinking patterns that arise in my day-to-day life within two months. I’ll pause and consider why I feel a certain way before reacting and coming up with alternate solutions.
- Specific: This goal describes what you need to do (challenge any unhealthy thinking patterns) and when it needs to be done (within two months).
- Measurable: You could count how many times you’ve successfully challenged your unhealthy thinking.
- Attainable: This is possible since you’ll be able to notice when such unhealthy thinking patterns arise in your life.
- Relevant: Challenging unhealthy thinking can help to reduce anxiety and depression.
- Time-based: There is a two-month end date to meet this goal.
12. Seek Professional Help
SMART Goal: I will seek a mental health professional to help me with my mental health issues. I understand there is no shame in getting help; it could be my first step toward a healthier mindset. I’ll schedule an appointment with a professional in one month.
- Specific: This goal is about seeking the help of a professional to address any mental health issues.
- Measurable: Ensure you schedule an appointment with a professional within the given time frame.
- Attainable: Seeking help may be intimidating, but it only requires a bit of courage.
- Relevant: Mental health issues should be addressed with the help of a trained and certified professional.
- Time-based: You have a deadline of one month for success.
13. Create a Gratitude List
SMART Goal: I want to make a point to write down three things I am grateful for daily. This gratitude list will remind me of the positive things in my life and encourage me to keep perspective during hardships.
- Specific: The statement is written with clear intention, including what will be done and why.
- Measurable: You can measure the number of gratitude lists written every day.
- Attainable: This goal is easy to attain. All you need is a pen and paper or a digital document.
- Relevant: A grateful attitude can have a substantial positive impact on mental health.
- Time-based: The goal is reoccurring and designed to be done daily.
Developing SMART goals is a powerful approach to boosting your mental health. Not only are they actionable and measurable, but they also provide an opportunity to set yourself up for success.
They can empower you to take control of your life and give you the confidence to make positive changes—even in small steps. So why not give it a try? Begin by writing down some goals today and keep them achievable and specific.
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