The new year is approaching soon and with that comes new beginnings and the brand new you.
While this may be easier for some, it may be hard for others to make adjustments into their everyday lives, even the smallest of changes.
Dr. Jennifer Buchwald, a clinical psychologist at the Hudson Valley Center for Cognitive Therapy, spoke with RCT to share her advice on how one can stick to their New Year’s resolutions.
Before the new year, try mapping out your objective.
“It’s really helpful to make a specific plan for how you’re going to make the change. Write down your reasons for making the change, so you can read your list over when you’re feeling tempted to do the behavior you’re trying not to do,” she said.
Dress for success.
How we start our day and how we present ourselves can impact the way we feel. “I am a big believer in getting dressed every morning. I know it sounds very basic, but it’s a very important way to start the day and get into a positive mental space to achieve our goals,” Buchwald said.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Add blockers to the behavior you’re trying to prevent.
“For example, if you want to take time off from social media, delete the apps from your phone or if you’re having an issue with spending too much money, start spending things using cash and carrying only the amount you allot for yourself,” she said. “It’s not that someone can’t get around the blockers, but it helps from engaging in these behaviors impulsively and enforces people to make a more conscious decision about what they’re doing.”
Trying to cut out sweets? If they’re in the kitchen, Buchwald recommends putting them on a higher shelf to make it harder to reach.
Develop a schedule.
If your new year’s resolution involves adding something to benefit you in your everyday life, rather than breaking a habit, Buchwald suggests setting up a time.
“It’s helpful to schedule when you’re going to do the behavior and brainstorm ways to make the behavior more pleasant,” she said. “For example if the goal is to work out more often, schedule when you’re going to work out, such as making a playlist that you love that you can listen to while you’re exercising.”
Picture yourself in the long run.
“I always say ‘An inch by an inch is a cinch. A yard by a yard makes it hard,’” said Dr. Jennifer Buchwald, clinical psychologist at the Hudson Valley Center for Cognitive Therapy. Large goals may seem unattainable at first, but if you break down the main objective into smaller achievements, you’ll get there in no time.
Picturing the future rewards while in action and imagining what things will be like once you achieve that goal, Buchwald says, “can be really enforcing for today’s change.”
“Making change is hard, but it is doable. Keep in mind that it is a work in progress and I think it’s helpful to try different things and find what’s working for you,” she said. “It takes three weeks to form a habit, so try to stick with the new behavior for three weeks and after three weeks, you’ll start to see the benefit of making the change, which is reinforcing, and the behavior will feel more natural.”
Uncertain what to propose for your 2024 resolution?
A survey of 1,000 adults from Forbes Health/One Poll, showed that this year’s most commonly-selected New Year’s resolution was focused on physical health (48%) rather than mental health (36%), in contrast to last year’s findings. Though this may be the case, physical and mental health are interconnected in many ways.
“Physical activity has many well-established benefits, such as improved brain health and improved ability to think. It also reduces the risk of anxiety, depression and it improves sleep,” Buchwald said.
On the other hand, studies show that positive psychological well being can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
“Mental health issues can negatively affect physical health and mortality rates with people with specific depressions,” she said. “Depression has been found to increase the many types of physical problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The mortality rate from cancer and heart disease is higher among people with depression or other mental health conditions.”
The Hudson Valley Center for Cognitive Therapy was founded by Dr. Christine Ziegler in 2001 and is one of the few centers in Rockland County that specializes in Cognitive Therapy. They offer services for people of all ages.
To learn more, please visit their website at www.hvcct.com.