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Psychiatrist Suggests Mental Health, Mindfulness Goals For 2021

MILLCREEK, Utah – Many of us dread making New Year’s goals, but 2021 will present a special opportunity. When times became tough, a Utah family dug deep and found it’s shaping their intentions for the new year.

They were faced with a role that strikes fear into the hearts of many parents: home school teacher.

“The thought of that was a little bit daunting,” said Tara Bekker, a Millcreek mother of five kids ranging in age from 4-14. “I have a friend who homeschooled all six of her children, and I was one of those moms who said, ‘You’re crazy. I could never do that for my sanity.'”

When the need arose to homeschool 9-year-old Sam, Tara was all-in.

Tara Bekker of Millcreek didn’t want to homeschool her son Sam but she found it surprisingly rewarding. (KSL TV)

“I really like it. It’s very fun because I get done really close to 12-ish,” Sam Bekker said.

When Tara’s husband got very sick with COVID-19, the teacher became a student.

“It’s important to be a doer, instead of an asker,” Tara said. “We had people who just would come and drop things off, and it meant so much to us.”

It’s this kind of insight that can help us set our New Year’s goals, said Dr. Travis Mickelson, a psychiatrist with Intermountain Healthcare.

“Think about what we’ve learned about ourselves, and think about at the end of 2020. When I look back at this year, ‘What do I want this year to mean for me? What do I want to have learned about this?’ Mickelson said.

Instead of the typical diet or exercise goals this year, he suggested considering ones that improve mental health through compassion and caring.

“Something in which I’m actually giving to others, and helping other people,” Mickelson said.

Also, try setting a goal to start a mindfulness practice. It doesn’t have to be a formal routine, and no app needed.

“It’s just doing something that really puts you in the moment,” Mickelson said. “Even if it’s just for 30 minutes, it’s amazing what that can do for the rest of your day.”

The key is starting small, and building on it.

“Ask yourself, what’s the chance that you’re going to be able to follow up on that? And if it’s, you know, less than 80 percent, then make it simpler,” Mickelson said.

It’s working for Tara, whose goals for herself and for her children have shifted this year.

“I hope that in this New Year, they become doers; they become people that serve and look for opportunities to do,” she said.

Sam was taking note.

“This past week, I was shoveling my driveway and I just felt a prompting to go shovel my neighbor’s. It made me feel happy and good,” he said.

Tara became emotional and said, “The tears are because I’m proud of myself for doing the right thing.”

When it came time for a test, Tara was worried.

“He had to write a paragraph and the paragraph was, ‘What do you like about school?’ and I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be interesting,’” she said. “’I said, ‘Did you finish your paragraph?’ I went over and there was one word, and I thought, ‘Oh no.'”

It turns out, Tara made the grade.

“I looked down and the word said, ‘Everything,’” she said.

In the end, she said homeschooling hasn’t been so bad.

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