by Catherine DeAngelis
Life can only be understood backwards,
but it must be lived forwards. Kierkegaard ~
A New Year has arrived – a chance for brand new starts. Many of us may think it’s just another day or for some a time to introduce life changing events into our world.
If we are the one, over holiday social moments, who listens intently and likely hears snippets of chatter about making New Year’s Resolutions, we may have heard plans that include eating less sugar, cutting out coffee, going vegan, losing weight, visiting the gym (more often) and less of or about time to be quitting smoking and drinking altogether.
Five Easy Steps to Achieve Your New Year’s Goals
Psychologist Richard Wiseman examines the quirky science of everyday life on his website “Quirkology.” Of the 5,000 people he studied, that attempted to make their new year’s resolution, he found most failed, but 10% did meet their aims and ambitions. He learned the 10% who succeeded were working on 5 simple principles that allowed them to achieve their goals. Here’s what the successful group did:
- Broke goals into a series of smaller steps.
- Told family and friends what they were trying to achieve.
- Reminded themselves of the benefit of attaining their goal.
- Gave themselves a small reward each time they attained one of their small steps.
- Mapped out their progress either in a spreadsheet, on the fridge door or in a journal so they knew exactly where they were.
There are many practical steps written to help us make New Year’s resolutions. Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. in her article How to make New Year’s Resolutions Stick, she explains the reason people abandon their resolutions is that they become discouraged when results don’t come quickly enough, or when they find that they are not necessarily happier because of them. Behavioral change requires sustained effort and commitment.
Healthy Emotional Goals and better Mental Health for the New Year
Rarely do we go after attaining healthy emotional goals and make sure that we have an effective approach to create a goal for better mental health for ourselves or for the roles we partake in our community.
It is integral during the making of New Year’s Resolutions that we include better Mental Health as one of our goals.
Mental Health is the capacity for each of us to feel, think and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. We need to promote mental health in the way that we do our caretaking as friends, family, siblings, parenting or work that we do. We can even go further by helping to enhance the capacity of people and communities to take control over their lives and improve their mental health.
Setting New Year’s Resolutions are often thought of as personal, but youth, adults and seniors can work toward making themselves emotionally and mentally healthier.
Emotionally aware people experience greater success in their careers and a greater sense of well-being in their personal lives. Studies have shown that success doesn’t lead to emotional health and happiness, but rather the other way around. The emotionally healthy experience positive moods, feel more confidant, more optimistic, more energetic, and more sociable. These factors lead to greater success in many aspects of life. Source (APA): American Psychological Association
SENIORS – According to The Public Health Agency of Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on The State of Public Health in Canada 2010 – positive mental health can help seniors cope with many difficult issues and life events, such as chronic illness or the loss of partners and friends. For seniors who may have poor mental health or mental illness, the negative impacts are far-reaching. Mental health issues can affect physical health, emotional and social well-being, and quality of life.
ADULTS – As we continue with more studies around mind, body and health, we are learning more about the connection between good mental health and good physical health. Psychological studies show that your mind and your body are strongly linked. As your mental health declines, your physical health can wear down, and if your physical health declines, it can make you feel mentally “down.” A positive outlook can help keep you healthy. Studies show 80% of Americans during the past few years have become more aware of how their mental health and emotions can affect their physical health (APA 2005) .
YOUTH – According to The Public Health Agency of Canada, Emotional Health Among Canadian Youth, is a critical part of young people’s well-being. Research has shown that many youth who experience mental health problems continue to have these problems in adulthood and may suffer personal costs, including limited employment opportunities, reduced access to housing and strained family relationships. If poor emotional health develops into mental illness, personal costs can include poverty, homelessness and social exclusion, which may ultimately be life-threatening. Therefore, it is essential to recognize and respond to early indications of emotional health difficulties.
Remember to include emotional and mental well-being as one of your New Year’s Resolutions. Read more >> Improving Emotional Health – Strategies & Tips for Good Mental Health.