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New Year's Resolution Ideas to Start 2022 Right

New Year's Resolution Ideas to Start 2022 Right

New Year’s resolutions don’t always have the best reputation. But as we head into 2022 — another year of potential (and unknowns) — there are a few things you can control: creating reasonable goals and practicing gratitude.

Research indicates it might be better to set a goal or achievement you want to hit, rather than commit to what you don’t want. Instead, measure an objective you want to reach and identify what you need to get there. A 2020 study from Stockholm University, Sweden, found that most powerful resolutions were approach-oriented goals instead of avoidance-oriented ones, which were evaluated as less rewarding. The most popular goals were focused on physical health, weight loss and eating habits. And after one year, 55 percent of people surveyed considered their progress successful and sustainable. New Year’s resolutions can have considerable, lasting effects, even in one year alone.

Here’s a list of 25 healthy goals from mental health experts to consider for the upcoming year:

1. Take Time to Reflect on Past Resolutions

Before thinking about what resolutions you want to accomplish, take stock of your resolutions in the past. What goals did you successfully accomplish? What resolutions were harder to work on? What made them difficult? Be honest with yourself, and be kind as well—knowing how and why you could or couldn’t keep a resolution is how you succeed the next time.

Additionally, consider what kinds of goals you’re setting. Were they huge, lofty, and vague ideas with no concrete plan? Were they actionable? Did you genuinely enjoy doing them? Breaking up large goals like “I want to lose weight” into “I want to exercise three times a week” sets you up for success that’s within reach and reasonable. – Melissa Boudin, PsyD

2. Spend 15 minutes in Nature Every Day

“Being in the same environment for a long time can perpetuate feelings of social isolation and leave you feeling worse. Being in nature has proven to help improve mental functioning, memory, and improve mood.” – Silvi Saxena, MBA, MSW, LSW, CCTP, OSW-C

3. Set Goals, Not Resolutions

“When it comes to New Years resolutions, I like to help people focus on the concept of goal-setting, rather than resolutions. This is primarily because goal-setting tends to have more structure to it and can be more easily broken down into achievable sub-goals to help people to maintain their motivation. Because resolutions tend to be ongoing (ex. “I’m going to eat healthier this year”) there are no real achievable milestones to keep you going which is why so many people give up on their resolutions so soon after the start of the new year.” – Dr. Candice Seti, Psy.D., CPT, CNC

4. Improve Emotional Awareness

“Take some time each day to pause and take note of how you are feeling, what emotions you are experiencing, and what thoughts are going through your head. You can even reflect on earlier situations that you may have wished you handled better. It’s a good way to practice becoming aware of emotions, and the first step in changing behavior or handling things differently.” – Robert Hinojosa, LCSW

5. Commit to Listening to Your Body More

“By consciously listening to your body you are better able to discover what your body actually wants and what makes you feel healthier. You may be surprised to learn you need more sleep or need to drink more water or eat healthier.” – Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi

6. Limit Your Screen Time

“It’s always a good idea to consider scheduling downtime away from phones while at home. I have personally disabled cellular abilities from Facebook and Instagram as a way of eliminating that distraction when away from home.” – William Schroeder, LPC, NCC, the co-owner and a counselor at Just Mind, LLC

7. Commit to a Gratitude Practice

“One healthy New Year’s resolution I would encourage anyone to set is to practice gratitude. Gratitude has been shown to increase happiness, improve resilience, and even help manage depression. It’s also a practical, realistic goal. Practicing gratitude can be as simple as setting aside a few minutes each day to write down a couple of things you’re grateful for. You might be surprised at how much it improves your outlook. To achieve this goal, make sure you have a game plan. First, identify how you plan to incorporate this into your life. Then, make time in your schedule to do it regularly. Make sure you keep track of your progress and celebrate wins — reward yourself when you reach certain milestones, such as writing in a gratitude journal for a specific number of days in a row. Be kind to yourself when you slip up; mistakes happen to everyone. As you persist, gratitude will become a habit that can enrich your life immeasurably.” – Joseph Bordelon, LPC, Owner of Christian Counseling Austin

8. Find a Way to Exercise That You Actually Like

“Finding a physical activity that you enjoy is a healthy new year’s resolution. Every New Year, people spend a lot of money on gym memberships, workout studio memberships, and online fitness programs in the hopes of losing weight in the coming year. Even though most people start strong, most of them fail to turn their new routine into a long-term habit. Even so, there are ways to improve your odds of sticking to your exercise goals. To begin, pick an activity that you will enjoy and that fits into your schedule.” – Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D.

9. Take Time for Self-Care

“When it comes to goals to make you healthier, I encourage people to focus on self-care. We are often last on our priority list and putting ourselves first can have a massively beneficial impact on our well-being as well as benefiting those around us. Self-care can be about scheduling time for yourself, planning fun or relaxing activities, or can include a focus on healthy behaviors (sleeping more regular hours, eating whole foods, drinking more water). It just has to be framed in a way that allows for goals or milestones that can be hit. For example, I am going to eat four whole-foods based meals a week. Or I’m going to take 10,000 steps for 5 of the next 7 days.” – Dr. Candice Seti, Psy.D., CPT, CNC

10. Compliment Yourself & Someone Else Everyday

“We know the importance of gratitude, yet most of us fail to do it on a regular basis. Complimenting yourself can be so beneficial for your mental health. Likewise, complimenting other people makes you more appreciative and grateful for the people around you.” – Nicole Arzt, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

11. Make Sure Your Positive Thoughts Outweigh Your Negative Ones

“You may not be in control of everything, but you can control your thoughts and responses to stressors. Focus on what is going well rather than what is going wrong to change your perspective for the better.” – Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi

12. Read More Books

“Reading is enriching, entertaining, and good for you. But work, distractions, and phones can keep you from tackling your reading list. Plug your phone in a room that’s not your bedroom and leave a book or Kindle by your bedside to encourage reading.” – William Schroeder, LPC, NCC

13. Make Time for Fun & Creativity

“A healthy new year’s resolution I’d encourage is to set aside time each week for creativity and play. During the pandemic, a lot of people reconnected with their creative side through taking on new hobbies and interests. Self-expression and play are powerful tools for decreasing stress and increasing our sense of joy. Start by making a list of 5 hobbies you love, 5 you think would be fun, and 5 skills you want to build. Are there similarities? Choose one as your goal.” – Jackie Tassiello, ATR-BC, LCAT, ATCS

14. Watch the Sunset or Sunrise Every Day

“Take a mindful moment to enjoy the little things in life. Being in nature, whether starting your day in the sun or relaxing as your evening winds down, can give you time to breathe, consider your day, and take a moment for yourself. Grab a cup of coffee in the morning or enjoy a relaxing cup of tea at night while enjoying nature’s beauty.” – Sandra Calzadilla, LMHC

15. Set an Intention for Every Day

“A healthy new year’s resolution that I would encourage someone to set and stick to is having a daily focus/intention. A lot of times when we start the new year we have big things that we are thinking about and wanting to accomplish, but often those goals are an afterthought by the end of the year. I’ve found that the best way to build consistency is to take small steps daily. Setting an intention each day allows you to really hone in on what is most important for that day and it keeps it at the forefront of your mind rather than trying to remember what you said 3-6 months ago. The idea of having a consistent daily practice makes it more sustainable. But it also provides flexibility for you to be able to adjust to what you are needing in that moment. This practice can also support you in any other resolution, goal or practice you are setting out to engage in for the year.” – Dr. Marcuetta Sims, Licensed Psychologist, Yoga and Meditation Teacher and the Founder of The Worth, Wisdom, and Wellness Center

16. Meditate for Ten Minutes Every Day

“Meditating can feel intimidating, but if you aim for small amounts of time you might find more success. If you struggle to keep your mind ‘quiet’ enough to meditate, remember that it’s a skill that needs practice like anything else. Don’t stress about keeping your mind blank—recognize each thought that comes in, then let it pass.” – Melissa Boudin, PsyD

17. Have Scheduled Alone-Time

“Although some people take vacations and day-offs, a majority of society does not believe in spending time alone as they perceive it as detachment. Every person should dedicate at least a day every month to some introspection and decompression. Taking some time alone has long-term physical and mental health benefits. The perception that one has to go to an expensive holiday destination to relax is entirely misleading. You can have some quality of self-reflection and tranquility by just sitting on the patio every evening with a glass of your favorite drink and beverage.” – Dr. Jeff Rocker

18. Find an Accountability Partner

“Resolutions are hard to keep, especially those you may have tried previously but weren’t successful. By engaging a therapist or friend to help hold you accountable, you increase your motivation and drive to reach goals.” – Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi

19. Learn a New Recipe Every Month

“Learning to cook can feel like a challenge, which is why you can set yourself up for success by committing to learning one or two new recipes a month. Consider what kinds of foods you like—if you’re not a fan of pasta, then don’t waste your time trying to make carbonara. Not only is cooking at home generally healthier, but the act of learning a new recipe can help you feel accomplished and confident.” – Sandra Calzadilla, LMHC

20. Stretch for Five Minutes Every Day

“Stretching has plenty of health benefits, even if you only do it for a few minutes. It keeps muscles flexible and can help prevent injury the next time you go for a workout. Stretching also releases tension and can help you relax. Raise your hands over your head, try to touch your toes, and be gentle with yourself. You may be surprised to see how flexible you are by next year!” – Melissa Boudin, PsyD

21. Focus on Better Sleep Hygiene

“Sleep has a direct connection with mental health. If you’re struggling to get to sleep, consider going to bed at the same time every night, charging your phone in another room, or exercising during the day to reduce stress.” – Sandra Calzadilla, LMHC

22. Listen to a New Podcast

“Chances are high that if there’s something you already enjoy, there’s a podcast about it. Or you can use this as an opportunity to learn something new.” – Melissa Boudin, PsyD

Looking for a place to start? Here’s a list of the 15 best self-help podcasts.

23. Do One Thing Every Day to Strengthen Relationships

“Putting the work into your relationships will strengthen your connectedness to loved ones in your life, even if that connectedness remains from afar for now.” – Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi

24. Do One Small Thing a Day for Yourself

“Being consistent to add some time each day to reset and recharge is important. You can start by making small changes and even start with 10 minutes a day to check in with yourself. Do something just for you to improve your mood or reduce stress. This can be taking time to read, workout, talk with friends, just sit and think or anything else that may make you feel good.” – Jaclyn Gulotta, PhD, LMHC

25. Stop Asking “How Are You?”

“It’s a simple question that often doesn’t get a true answer. How many times, for instance, have you answered ‘Fine,’ to this question when you weren’t? A better question to ask is ‘How are you feeling today?’ Then be sure to listen genuinely. Giving people the space to talk about their feelings, and in turn, share yours, allows everyone to express emotions in a healthy way.” – Melissa Boudin, PsyD


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