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Attaining Effective Mental Health Goals: 4 Tips For Success by Elena Thomopoulos, PhD

Updated: May 10


Attaining Effective Mental Health Goals: 4 Tips For Success by Elena Thomopoulos, PhD, Bergen County Moms

Have you ever set a goal? Perhaps you’ve done so in various aspects of life – work, school, relationships, or even for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Setting goals can be challenging, as it requires dedicating our thoughts, emotions, and actions toward achieving something significant to us.


Let’s recognize that while establishing mental health goals demands commitment, it allows us to enact the changes we desire within ourselves. While it may seem challenging, these four tips can guide you in selecting, planning, and progressing toward accomplishing your mental health goals.


Tips for Achieving Mental Health Goals


1) Self-Assessment: Where Am I Now?


Reflect on where you are on your mental health journey. Consider where you want to go moving forward. Consider the emotions you’re experiencing, current stress levels, your use of coping skills, recent areas of growth, and identified areas of strength.


Check in with yourself and note some of your emotions, thoughts, or behaviors that have caused you discomfort lately, such as “I notice I am more stressed and anxious these days. I have been more irritable with friends and family and feel lethargic.” Note any techniques or coping skills that have previously helped, such as “I know mindfulness has helped me in the past, but I have not made time for it.”


2) SMART Goals:


When it comes to setting goals, having a clear roadmap can make all the difference between success and stagnation. SMART goals provide a structured framework to help individuals achieve their aspirations effectively. Individuals can enhance their chances of success and maintain motivation throughout their journey by breaking down goals into different components. Let’s look into each aspect of SMART goals and explore how they can help individuals accomplish their objectives with clarity and purpose.


Specific:

  • Define your goal clearly by answering questions like Who? What? When? Why?

  • Example: Instead of saying “I want to practice mindfulness more,” say “I want to engage in mindfulness 5 days a week.”


Measurable:

  • Establish criteria to track progress and measure success.

  • Regularly track progress using measurable units like minutes, days, pounds, etc.

  • Example: Start small and gradually increase. Begin with 2 minutes of mindfulness activities for 3 days a week and progress to 20 minutes a day.


Achievable/Attainable:

  • Ensure you have the necessary tools, skills, and resources to succeed.

  • Make sure the goal is realistic and reasonable within the allotted time frame.

  • Example: Seek support and carve out time for practice, like asking therapists for mindfulness techniques and scheduling practice time in the morning and evening.


Relevant/Reasonable:

  • Ensure your goal aligns with what you want to achieve.

  • Choose techniques or coping skills that have proven helpful in reaching your goal.

  • Example: If managing stress and anxiety is your goal, choose mindfulness practices that have been effective in the past.


Time-bound:

  • Set a deadline for achieving your goal.

  • Schedule regular check-ins to monitor progress and reevaluate if necessary.

  • Example: Set a timeframe you’re comfortable with, like engaging in mindfulness practices every day within two months, and reassess weekly to adjust as needed. 


3) Don’t Lose Sight Of Your “Why”


What is the basis for setting these goals? Taking the time to reflect on the motivations behind your pursuit of mental health objectives is crucial. For some, it may stem from deeply held values. Some others may be driven by aspirations for overall wellness, familial connections, or friendships. Mental health is a part of our daily lives, influencing our jobs, relationships, financial stability, physical well-being, and beyond.

Consider an example: “I want to reduce my stress levels and feel less anxious so that I can better interact with friends and family. I also want to feel less anxious so I can sleep better.”


4) Celebrate The Wins!


When working towards goals, it is always important to reflect on how far you have come. Remember to reflect even when the progress seems minor. Often, we fixate on major achievements and overlook the significance of the small victories that paved the way. Remember to acknowledge the building blocks as well.


Even if you’re uncertain about the significance of little progress, consider your starting point and where you stand now. For instance, “I was able to engage in mindfulness twice this week…this is better than none!”


How Can Lukin Center Help Me with My Mental Health Goals?


While all of these tips may seem overwhelming at first glance, please do not feel discouraged. The best way to approach your goals is to use these tips one step at a time. Start with tip number one, take your time, and consult with your therapist. When in doubt asking for help can make our goals seem more manageable and attainable. The Lukin Center is ever ready to support you form and attain your goals by helping you with personalized therapy plans that meet your unique needs. Our therapies include evidence-based modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety, trauma, and more. Don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance—our team of highly trained clinicians is here to guide you towards a healthier, more fulfilling life. Take the first step today and let us help you achieve your mental health goals.





Dr. Elena Thomopoulos is a licensed psychologist at Lukin Center for Psychotherapy, specializing in the treatment of adults experiencing chronic medical illnesses, anxiety, depression, stress, grief and loss, relationship issues, and life transitions.

Dr. Thomopoulos believes in a collaborative approach, working with her clients to build a safe and supportive environment where positive changes can be made. In therapy, Dr. Thomopoulos’s compassion and empathy are fueled by her integrative approach pulling from humanistic, cognitive, and psychodynamic therapies. She aims to apply evidenced based techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) to alleviate symptoms, and better understand the origins of our challenges and difficulties. Her goals for her clients are to help them navigate life obstacles and build a repertoire of coping strategies to combat negative thinking patterns and promote positive and empowering thoughts. Dr. Thomopoulos received her training from some of the most well-established hospitals including NYC Health + Hospitals – Bellevue, Veteran Affairs – New Jersey Health Care, and Hackensack Meridian Health. She has had years of experiences working with college students, veterans, healthcare workers, adults with chronic medical conditions and illnesses, and caregivers. Throughout her experiences, Dr. Thomopoulos has gained skills and knowledge treating adults of various ages, cultural backgrounds, and levels of psychological functioning. Her exposure has provided her with unique experiences with trainings and education in a variety of therapeutic modalities and treatments including cognitive behavioral therapies, biopsychosocial approaches, trauma-focused therapies, person-centered approaches, and interpersonal therapy. Dr. Thomopoulos holds a bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University where she majored in Biology, Psychology, and Religion. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Fordham University. She achieved her Doctor of Philosophy in counseling psychology from Seton Hall University. Dr. Thomopoulos completed her pre-doctoral internship from Veteran Affairs New Jersey Healthcare System, and additionally completed her post-doctoral fellowship at Hackensack Meridian Health’s Neuroscience Institute. 



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