15 Mood-Boosting New Years Resolutions to Make for 2021

Emily VanSchmus
·8 min read

I love making New Year’s resolutions. And while I don’t always stick to them, there’s just something I love about putting all my goals and plans down on paper. We all know 2020 has been a heck of a year, so I briefly considered skipping 2021 resolutions all together—but I’m glad I didn’t. Going into the new year, I’ve set some feel-good resolutions that will help me find joy while focusing on my physical and mental health.

If you’re struggling to set New Year’s resolutions for 2021, not to worry—I’ve rounded up some of our editors’ best ideas to help you have the best year possible, even amid so much uncertainty about what the year may hold.

Carlos G. Lopez/Getty Images

As with all resolutions, keep in mind that you don’t have to start on January 1. I’m a firm believer that you should start the day you make the resolution, whether that’s in December, February, or at any point in the year. Once you’ve decided on a goal you’re excited about, there’s no reason not to start right away!

Related: Why Micro Goals Work Better Than Big Resolutions

Resolutions for Your Physical Health

Because New Year’s falls right after we’ve spent a week eating all the Christmas cookies in sight, it makes sense that new year's resolutions tend to revolve around health goals. According to a recent survey from Finder, 45% of adult Americans are making health-related goals in 2021. And while weight loss goals are always popular this time of year, there are plenty of health-conscious goals you can make that don’t involve the number on the scale. Here are a few of my favorites.

Set a Move Goal

Whether it’s walking 20 miles per month or lifting weights once a week, set a goal centered around a physical activity you enjoy. Focus more on the activity itself rather than the outcome; you’ll enjoy your daily exercise more if you’re not concerned with how many calories you’re burning and rather just enjoying moving your body. And if you’re looking for at-home workouts to try in 2021, we’ve rounded up the best fitness apps to help you get started.

Set a Skincare Routine

Getting into a skincare routine wasn’t on my list of resolutions for 2020, but it’s something I picked up pretty quickly while working from home. During the time I would’ve spent getting ready and commuting, I spent a few minutes each day exfoliating, moisturizing, and cleansing—and I can’t recommend it enough. In addition to our favorite skincare products of 2020, I’ve also been loving using a portable facial steamer, which is meant to hydrate your skin and hair while clearing your sinuses. (Plus it’s such a relaxing experience!)

Buy It: Hey Dewy Portable Facial Humidifier ($39, Nordstrom)

Spend More Time Walking Outside

This was one of my resolutions for 2020, and I don’t think I would have survived quarantine without my daily walks. It’s been proven that just 20 minutes walking outdoors can lower stress levels, so set a goal to get outside for a few minutes each day. Even if you only have time for a walk around the block, taking a quick break to reset can make a big difference.

Set Health Goals That Don’t Include Weight Loss

This year, consider health goals that don’t revolve around your weight. Whether you want to focus on hydration or building muscle, you can improve your overall well being by hitting health goals that don’t necessarily impact your weight. I recently started using the FitTrack scale which I love, because I can track my body water and muscle rate (among other things) to help me keep up with my goals.

Buy It: FitTrack Smart Scale ($89, Amazon)

Resolutions for Your Mental Health

While we normally think of our physical health while setting resolutions, it’s just as important to check in on your mental health. Especially as we navigate through yet another year of unknowns, consider implementing a few of these ideas to keep yourself mentally well in the coming year.

Try Virtual Therapy

Whether you’re a regular or you’ve never tried therapy before, consider trying virtual therapy in 2021. It’s easy to schedule, and you can attend your appointments from the comfort of your own home. Set a goal to talk to someone once a month, and stick to it. If you’re not sure how to begin, we’ve got the low-down on how to choose the right therapy app, as well as tips for finding a therapist you actually click with.

Write Thank You Notes

Expressing gratitude is an easy way to remind yourself of all you have to be thankful for. Set a goal to write one thank you note each week. It can be a traditional thank you card to say thanks for a gift or favor from someone, or it can be a heartfelt note that simply says ‘thanks for being part of my life.’ If you need help getting started, I love making and sending photo thank you cards from Artifact Uprising because they’re so fun to personalize.

Buy It: Photo Thank You Cards (from $1, Artifact Uprising)

Check in With Friends

Having weekly FaceTime calls with friends might be the best thing I got out of quarantine, so I’m making it a goal to keep up the habit in 2021. Even if it’s just a 10-minute call, checking in on friends and having someone to talk to each week will help both of your mental health.

Try Meditation

Meditation is an easy (and free!) way to give yourself a mental break. If coordinating work-from-home schedules and virtual learning in the new year is already making you feel stressed about 2021, give yourself a set amount of time each day or week to focus on meditation. If you need help getting started, these are a few of our favorite meditation apps.

Limit Screen Time

My screen time has been at an all-time high during the pandemic because I’m not spending as much time out doing things. And while it’s easy to mindlessly scroll through my Instagram feed to fill the time, I’ve noticed I’m happier when I set a time limit and put my phone away for a while. This year, set a daily screen time limit for your phone, computer, or TV (or all three!) and stick to it. You might just find yourself with more time to accomplish your other resolutions, like reading more or picking up a new hobby.

Resolutions that Will Boost Your Mood

If you’re looking for ways to add joy to 2021, try one (or two!) of these mood-boosting ideas. Consider picking up a new hobby that’ll keep your spirits up in the new year.

Learn a Craft Skill

Studies have shown that crafts you do with your hands (like knitting, sewing, and crocheting) can actually boost your mood and lower stress levels. Choose something you’ve never tried before—like learning how to knit—then choose a project to try.

Related: How to Make a Chunky Arm Knitted Blanket

Get into Gardening

Whether you have a backyard garden or a few apartment houseplants, setting a gardening goal can give you something to work toward and take care of in the new year—and you’ll feel accomplished seeing your plants or flowers thrive! If you need help getting started, try one of our gardening-specific New Year’s resolutions.

Read More Books

One of my favorite New Year’s resolutions was one I made a few years ago—I made it a goal to read 50 books in a year. And while I only got through about 45 that first year, it did wonders for my well being. I read so many books I loved (that I never would have made time for without the resolution) and I naturally spent a lot less time staring at a screen. Plus, it helped me sleep better because reading before bed meant I wasn’t looking at screens before I went to sleep. And if reading a physical book isn’t your thing, listening to audio books totally counts!

Start Journaling

Experts say journaling can help lower stress levels, and it can also help you reflect on all the positives in your life. Start a gratitude journal, or simply make it a goal to write down all the things that went well each day. Making a list each day (and re-reading your journals from past days) can help you focus on all the things going well, rather than dwelling on things that aren’t.

Make Your Bed Every Morning

This is another habit I picked up during quarantine that I’m turning into a goal for the new year. While working from home, I had to make my bed each morning so that the background of my Zoom meetings looked nice. But after a few months, I realized that having a made bed and a clean room actually made me enjoy the space a lot more—if you don’t normally make your bed, set a goal to do it every day for a month and see how big of a difference this 3-minute task can make.

Make an Adventure List

While you might not be able to make many travel plans for the new year just yet, you can still plan adventures to look forward to. Become a tourist in your own city by making a list of all the places in your area you’ve wanted to go, but never made time for. To help you get started, check out this midwest travel guide from Midwest Living.