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New Year Resolutions To Live Longer, Say Experts

These five things are important to do, doctor says.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

New year, new you! 2022 is here and it's time to start thinking about what resolutions you're going to take on in the new year. "New year resolutions are best determined by the individual who will be living by them. Effective resolutions include specific plans or activities, are realistic and attainable, and are best when positively stated or framed," Dr. Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist and program coordinator for intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health services at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, CA told Eat This, Not That! Health. It's never too late to form good habits and positive lifestyle changes, so read Dr. Mendez five healthy tips below that anyone can do. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Take Care of Your Mental Health

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According to Dr. Mendez, "Mental health is the foundation of emotional well-being. Your mental health informs the quality of coping patterns and skills, relationships, stress management, energy level, problem solving skills, emotional regulation and resiliency to confront, manage and solve challenges. Mental health should play a key role when considering New Year's resolutions as functional mental health supports physical, intellectual, emotional and relational well-being. Considering mental health informed resolutions includes giving time and attention to self-care, openness to learning and exploring options that allow for increased problem- solving opportunities, engaging in tasks and activities that reinforce meaningfulness to life and support confidence in self and enhance relationships."

2

Take Time for Self-Care

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Dr. Mendez explains, "This is an important resolution as the world in which we live is extremely fast paced and ever changing. Time runs away quickly and may leave individuals feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied. Ensuring time to do desirable tasks and activities by selecting specific days and times on a realistic schedule may prompt a sense of gratification. Even a few minutes of an engaging and pleasurable activity can lift negative mood states, clear the mind for more accurate and effective problem solving and support energy needed to face challenges that inevitably occur. Consider doing volunteer work in an area that interests you and that adds meaning to your life. Consider learning about a subject of interest, reading for pleasure rather than duty, or committing a day or 2 monthly to engage a hobby or preferred activity that is non-obligatory. This may be attained by identifying 2-3 self-care options and designing a realistic plan for follow-through. Journaling or engaging in mindfulness exercises may promote commitment and maintain the self-care resolution present."

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3

Get More Quality Sleep

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"Sleep is essential for physical and emotional health," Dr. Mendez says, "A New Year's resolution that includes a commitment to improved sleep quality may result in reduction of screen time 30 minutes prior to bedtime, following through with stopping all work or activating activities 30 minutes prior to bedtime, or rethinking the bedroom environment and creating a space conducive to quality sleep such as controlling light, sounds and other distractions. This may be attained by identifying the obstacles that interrupt sleep and get in the way of quality sleep experiences. Develop a management plan to control for the obstacles and create realistic solutions that ensure follow-through. If the plan is too lofty or idealized, the resolution will likely go unmet."

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4

Commit to Engaging in Genuine Social Interactions

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Dr. Mendez states, "Humans are social beings who perform best when engaged in meaningful and sincere relationships. Making a New Year's resolution that focuses on prompting meaningful and satisfying social relationships may increase communication opportunities and decrease social isolation. Make a commitment to talking to friends or family on a regular basis but be realistic about frequency and timing to not set yourself up for failure by creating a schedule that is not doable given competing life demands. Pull away from technology, social media, television, and texting and make a conscious effort to reach out and engage in face-to-face interactions. Joining a social club, a gym, a book club, taking a class, attending lectures, reading, religious associations and get-togethers with friends and family are a few examples of opportunities for social interactions and face-to-face engagement. This may be attained by adding one social activity in the month, or at whatever frequency is realistic and fitting to the individual that ensures follow-through."

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5

Set Priorities to Manage Stress

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"Take time to consider obligations, daily living tasks, personal desires, family responsibilities and work responsibilities and establish a list of priorities regarding how to go about meeting life expectations in a way that promotes balance and efficiency," Dr. Mendez says. "Consider a resolution that supports setting limits and boundaries effectively and kindly. Identify where there is room to add tasks and where the boundary must be drawn. Doing everything for everyone results in feeling overwhelmed and spent most of the time. Perpetual experiences of high stress, trauma and emotionally charged interactions compromises mental well-being. Stress management may be attained by knowing personal limits and establishing those limits with confidence. Rehearse how to say 'no' when necessary, offer alternatives to support others but resist taking on responsibilities that belong to others, and communicate clearly and precisely to set priorities in a respectful and compassionate manner. Setting priorities and managing stress will support interpersonal coping and reserve emotional energy necessary for managing unavoidable life challenges. This is attained by identifying your limits and giving yourself permission to hold to the boundary for the benefit of maintaining and promoting mental stability." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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