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Realistic Resolutions for the New Year 2021

Dr. Stephanie Grant, LCSW, 144th Fighter Wing Director of Psychological Health

Stephanie Grant, PhD, LCSW, 144th Fighter Wing Director of Psychological Health

FRESNO AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. --

The beginning of a new year is often a time we reflect on the past year and promise to make positive lifestyle changes moving forward. Paying attention to little changes over time can have a significant impact on overall health and wellness.  Research demonstrates that setting small, attainable goals throughout the year is far more helpful than a singular, overwhelming goal on January first.   Keep in mind, it’s not the size of the goal that matters but more important the act of recognizing lifestyle change and working toward it, one step at a time.  

By making your resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behavior into your everyday life.  Here are some simple tips for setting realistic New Year’s resolutions:

Start small 

Make resolutions that you think you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week instead of seven. If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt, instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment.

Change one behavior at a time 

Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time.

Talk about it 

Share your experiences with family and friends. Consider joining a support group to reach your goals. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating. Right now, with the pandemic there are many options for support online. 

Don’t beat yourself up 

Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up completely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet, or skipped your exercise for a few days because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.

Ask for support 

Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help. Mental health professionals are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies as to how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.