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Wellness Wednesday: Strategies to actually fulfill your New Year’s resolutions

(Harishwer Balasubramani)

By Appurva Goel and Belicia Tang

January 11, 2017 4:04 pm

College may very well be the best four years of a person’s life, but reports show that college students are more stressed out nowadays than they have ever been before. This stress creates a breeding ground for mental health ailments, with approximately 37 percent of college students having depression, anxiety or stress. In recognition of this so-called epidemic, Daily Bruin blogger Appurva Goel will be delving into this phenomenon and investigating the major issues and stigmas that affect the mental health of college students, as well as recapping what resources UCLA students can seek out for help.

“New year, new me” is a mantra adopted by many people around the globe once the calendar pages flip over to the hopeful date of Jan 1. The promise of a new quarter and a new year entices us all to sit down and compile our all-too-familiar list of New Year’s resolutions, with hopes of ditching bad habits, achieving new goals and ultimately bettering ourselves during the coming twelve months.

As promising as the idea of shedding the old you for a “shinier” version of yourself sounds, the sad truth is that very few people are able to stick to their often grandiose and unrealistic resolutions.

While an estimated 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only about 8 percent of people actually follow through with their goals. Clearly, the numbers are stacked against us.

So is the entire process of making resolutions flawed?

According to the American Psychological Association, the failure to stick with resolutions can increase anxiety and invoke feelings of hopelessness that are only exacerbated by post-holiday blues.

Moreover, the very act of creating resolutions requires us to look back on the past year’s accomplishments – or lack thereof. For the many people who’ve been unsuccessful at completing the previous year’s resolutions, such retrospection can prove painful and may evoke negative, self-deprecating emotions.

Resolutions indeed can have a negative impact on our mental health. But this deterioration has a direct correlation with our ability to carry out our resolution.

It’s also interesting to note that it’s in the month of January that most resolutions meet their untimely death. But while only few resolutions may survive the murky waters of January, statistics show that if a resolution does endure the one-month marker, the chances of the resolution surviving the entire year increases significantly.

So here are some tips on how to make this year’s resolutions stick, as well as on how to adopt a healthier mindset to eliminate unhealthy self-blame that often ensues when we aren’t able to stick with our goals.

Focus on a single resolution at a time, rather than spreading yourself thin over a long list of goals.

Oftentimes, in our attempt to accomplish 10 things at once, we end up getting nowhere. One of the surest ways to give up on your resolutions is to tackle too many at one time. A more realistic approach would be to start with one resolution, like exercising more, and making it a habit before moving on to the next resolution.

Be realistic with your resolutions.

While we all like to aim high and believe we can achieve anything we set our minds to, we must set ourselves up for success by being smart with the goals we set and taking into account the restrictions of reality.

For example, a goal like “Lose 10 pounds in two weeks” is highly unrealistic, not to mention unhealthy. Try as they might, most people won’t be able to achieve this largely unattainable goal, unless they subsist off of a highly insufficient diet. Moreover, falling short of goals leads many to feel inadequate and lose confidence in their abilities.

This may also create a domino effect and discourage people from following through with other resolutions after failing to achieve one. Thus, setting realistic resolutions would be more effective. Looking back at the previous example, a more realistic resolution of losing five pounds a month instead of 10 pounds would be healthier and more achievable in the long run.

For each resolution, create a detailed and step-by-step game plan on how to reach the ultimate goal.

It is not enough to tell yourself, “I want to lose five pounds by the end of the month”, and not have a blueprint to follow to accomplish the goal. To effectively commit to a resolution and achieve it, one must not only create a realistic “what”, but also a well- mapped “how.” How will you turn the resolution into a reality? To lose weight, you may commit to one hour at the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and resolve to eat only at B-Plate. The more specific you are with the “how,” the more likely you will be to stick to your resolution.

Sheer willpower alone will not be enough to achieve your resolutions.

Studies have shown that trying to resist temptation through sheer willpower is mentally draining and being mentally drained directly correlates with making less progress towards achieving your resolution. If your goal is to eat more healthily, the first thing you should do is rid your dorm room of unhealthy snacks so as to remove the temptations from sight. That way, you won’t have to channel willpower every time you glance around your room!

Tell someone about your resolution.

In publicizing your resolution to a friend, family member or mentor, you will have extra motivation to stick to your resolutions with others holding you accountable.

“To err is human” is a maxim well-suited to the spirit of making New Year’s resolutions. Human imperfection is an inherent part of life and it is this desire to reduce this imperfection that motivates us to make resolutions. But this adage also shows another important aspect of the resolution making process – the fact that we will somewhere stumble along the way of achieving our goal.

A year is a long time and it is inevitable that we will falter on our resolutions. Don’t give up on your resolutions because of one blip. You made them for a reason, so carry on with them.

The process of making resolutions may be flawed, but take heart. The same data that churned out that only 8 percent of people fulfill their resolutions also showed that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to fulfill goals than people who don’t make resolutions. So carry on but remember that loving and accepting yourself is as important as improving yourself.

Make this year not just about fixing your imperfections but also about celebrating them. I know the motto of self love that I’ll be adopting for ‘17, a headline used by another Quad article, with an added caveat – learn to love yourself like Kanye loves Kanye while working as hard as Beyonce.


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Appurva Goel
Appurva Goel is a Daily Bruin Quad contributor. She likes writing about different cultures, fashion and social issues.
Appurva Goel is a Daily Bruin Quad contributor. She likes writing about different cultures, fashion and social issues.
Belicia Tang is a Daily Bruin Quad contributor. She writes about a wide range of topics, including mental health, meditation, dance, and the psychology of motivation and success.
Belicia Tang is a Daily Bruin Quad contributor. She writes about a wide range of topics, including mental health, meditation, dance, and the psychology of motivation and success.
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