It’s 2021, and people are making time to reflect (perhaps this year more than ever) on changes they want to make. Two physician experts from the American Medical Association (AMA) offer their advice on sound goals for the new year.

So 2020 is a wrap, and despite so much uncertainty still lingering, most Americans are looking forward to wiping the proverbial “slate clean” and starting fresh. So much promise lies in the vaccine roll outs, but there is still a long way to go until things are back to normal. All this being said, people are still set on making their yearly resolutions now that the new year is here. After a year full of solitude and reflection, you would think that people would not want to engage in this practice, but this could not be further from the truth! conducted an online poll of 1,000 Americans and a mere ”three percent of respondents said they didn’t have plans to make [a resolution].” Instead of the usual “lose weight” or “spend less time on my phone,” Dr. Joanna Bisgrove, MD, a family physician in Madison, Wisconsin and Dr. Frank Clark, MD, a psychiatrist in Greenville, South Carolina offer up some advice on setting New Year’s resolutions this year. (see article link for full list of tips)

  1. Make time for self-care. Drs. Bisgrove and Clark urge people to prioritize this goal going into 2021. Dr. Clark argues that “we can all do this better,” and his point is well taken. We can’t be there for others in a meaningful way if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Make sure that you are doing the things you need to do to feel good, whether it be making time for a daily walk, engaging in meditation daily, or making time for therapy. They end this tip by urging us to practice more self-forgiveness. Numerous studies support that people who engage in forgiving themselves exhibit lower levels of anxiety and depression. (See a helpful link on the art of self-forgiveness and making that the star resolution on your list:
  2. Set SMART goals. This acronym is a favorite in the medical field and stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.” For example, if you want to get fit, commit to a set amount of time for 3 days a week instead of saying “I want to work out more.” SMART goals empower us not to feel overwhelmed by a large goal that is not specific or measurable.
  3. Keep focused on what they can control. So much of what has made 2020 difficult has been the uncertainty. However, understanding that so much is out of our control is freeing and allows us to hone in on what we CAN do. Ensuring we wash our hands frequently and trying to be as physically safe as we can are examples of things we can control and make us feel like we have some agency in an otherwise tough situation.
  4. And lastly, celebrate your wins! More than any other year, give yourself the deserved praise for the little victories. This encourages continued behavior and keeps you motivated for other resolutions. If you get that work out in 3 days a week, celebrate yourself! Share the news with a friend or journal about your success. Fueling that positive energy is the name of the game for a successful 2021.

With all the talk of resolutions, there is no time like the new year for prioritizing your mental health, and we at CalPsychiatry are here for you. If you have been feeling like you need to speak with someone, reach out to our team and book an initial consultation today. Our doctors are compassionate and will meet you where you are. They can help you set and attain the goals you have for yourself in caring for your mental health.


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