CADY: Rethinking New Year’s resolutions, mental health

Graphic+by+Alexandra+Garner

Graphic by Alexandra Garner

The new year can be an idyllic opportunity to have a fresh start and set new resolutions.

Especially with challenges like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a heated political climate, persisting social injustices and a worsening climate, reflecting can be important to personal growth and health. However, sticking to resolutions can be difficult.

We are almost one month into 2022, which means it’s likely that about 80% of resolutions have already failed. This number may seem disappointing, but it’s important to understand why so many resolutions fail in order to make them succeed.

Some of the most common resolutions include exercising more, being more organized and living life to the fullest. These can mean largely different things to different people. One main issue with these resolutions is that they’re so generalized. When we aspire to “exercise more,” the “more” is very relative. More could mean five days a week, once a month or one more hour a day than one normally does. The same idea applies for being “more organized.” Even more so, “live life the fullest” can mean a million different things. Instead, we should focus on setting concrete, tangible goals rather than resolutions.

This can come in many different forms. Whether it be writing down how many days of the week specifically we want to workout, aiming to organize particular areas of our life and accounting for how we can do that or making a list of things that make you happy which we can commit to doing in order to live your life to the fullest for you. That’s where the process to make resolutions more positive and achievable can begin.

Author and journalist Ashley Stahl wrote an article for Forbes about setting goals in the new year. Five specific tips that she gave to achieve our 2022 goals are to reflect over all areas of our life, write down our goals, post goals where we can see them, tell a friend and be flexible with ourselves.

It is important not to attach our self-worth or contentment to whether or not we follow through on our resolutions and goals. Although self-growth is important, in the event that we fall behind on our to-do list or are not “making every moment count,” we should also give ourselves grace and move forward. Additionally, if we set a goal that isn’t serving us anymore, we should feel free to let go of it.

Another element that comes into play with the progress of our goals is how it affects our mental health. If there are setbacks or we fall short of what we want to achieve in the year, it can create phases of anxiety or depression. Instead, we should strive to set goals to improve our mental health so that these kinds of setbacks do not affect us as strongly.

In an article from the Priory Group, a private mental health and addiction organization, there is some advice for how to focus on our psychological well-being and mental health in the new year.

It is important for people to limit alcohol intake and avoid drugs; This may seem glaringly obvious, but especially for college students alcohol and drugs can go hand in hand with socialization and party culture.

Another important step is to take care of ourselves physically. Physical and mental health can have direct connections, so we should strive to incorporate some of those stereotypical exercise and diet goals into our 2022 in order to look after our mental state. Another goal to make in the new year could be to cut back on our use of social media. This can help us all focus on ourselves and not be strained by comparison.

All of these issues are important to consider. Being nearly a month into the new year, it is a good time to reflect on resolutions we’ve made and consider turning them into measurable, positive goals if they are not already. In order to keep consistency and contentment, we should also not put too much weight on whether or not we achieve everything we have in mind for this year; but let’s do what we can.

This story was written by Grace Cady. She can be reached at grace.cady@marquette.edu