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Health and Financial Wellness

A toast to tomorrow: Mentally preparing for new year

After the mix of stress and joy that the holidays bring, people usually start to come up with resolutions so the next year can start off right. But most of the time, we don’t commit to these as much as we want to.

According to Social Weather Stations’ Fourth Quarter 2020 survey, 91% of Filipinos are actually optimistic about the new year. [1] With that said, there is still the possibility of not being able to fulfill our new year’s resolutions, as surveys from previous years have shown low success rates when it comes to this.

It’s good for us to set goals for ourselves, as it gives us something to look forward to and something to work towards. But with goals also comes the possibility of failure, and this can pose some risks to our mental health.

“New year, new me” isn’t as easy as it sounds

One reason why people often fail in completing or reaching their goals for the year is because of unrealistic expectations, which can be stressful and harmful to one’s self-esteem.

Clinical psychologist Selena C. Snow, Ph.D said that unrealistic expectations can be dangerous because they set up not only ourselves, but others, for disappointment and frustration. Because of this, we end up feeling bad about ourselves and we act negatively, be it to ourselves or others. [2]

Not meeting our own expectations or goals can cause stress, which isn’t just detrimental to our mental health but physical health, too.

When we get stressed, the body releases higher levels of cortisol. In small amounts, cortisol helps boost immunity but once the body gets used to having too much of it, it makes the body more prone to inflammation and infection. [3] When we lack sleep, cytokine production and T cell transportation are inhibited, in turn weakening the immune system. [4]

This is why it’s so important to mentally prepare for the new year.

Here’s to a fresh start

No one wants to start the year in a state of stress and exhaustion. Here are some things you can try to stay mentally healthy and achieve your goals:

Set realistic goals

While it’s good to believe that you can do or achieve certain things, there are pitfalls to being too idealistic. As mentioned, when goals are unreachable, we just set ourselves up for disappointment and end up feeling inadequate. 

Give yourself small, attainable goals, and remember that growth is a process. You won’t achieve your dream body or a state of mental clarity in a few days. You can set daily or weekly goals that are specific to you and your needs. It would also help if these goals were specific and measurable so you can monitor your progress.

Don’t be afraid to reach out

If you need help in committing to your goals, why not ask someone to help you? There’s nothing wrong with asking for some assistance.

Even if you’re physically distant from friends and family, you can still check in with them virtually. Let them know about what you’re trying to do this new year, and see if they can help you out. This will even contribute to boosting your social health. 

Get some rest

As with anything else, it’s important to recharge. Getting enough rest, whether it’s by napping, taking a walk, or even getting some alone time, helps in both avoiding burnout and boosting productivity.

Rest, such as naps, increases attentiveness and lessen fatigue by helping your brain restore energy. [5] Knowing when to stop is also crucial when trying to reach your goals. When you push yourself too hard for too long, there’s risk of all sorts of health conditions, including impaired memory and sleep, diabetes, drinking problems, and depression. [6]

The new year will bring in a whole new set of challenges. While some of these will be hurdles to ultimately achieving the goals you set for yourself, remember to be kind to yourself一 know your limits, connect with others, and relax. It’s what your mind and body deserve.

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References:

  1. Fourth Quarter 2020 Social Weather Survey: 91% of Filipinos enter New Year with Hope; lowest since 2009. Social Weather Stations. [Internet] 2020. [cited 7 January 2021 ] Available from: https://www.sws.org.ph/swsmain/artcldisppage/?artcsyscode=ART-20201229103002&fbclid=IwAR01gHLJ2xtL0peZ80F1PmAHY0Hj-HBZlOKxec34AKBv_-yUWcIQ_Q0C6X0

  2. Tartakovsky, M. How to Relinquish Unrealistic Expectations. PsychCentral. [Internet] 2019. [cited 21 December 2020] Available from: https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-relinquish-unrealistic-expectations#1

  3. Novotney, A. The risks of social isolation. American Psychological Association. [Internet] 2019. [cited 14 December 2020] Available from: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/05/ce-corner-isolation

  4. What happens when your immune system gets stressed out? Cleveland Clinic. [Internet] 2017. [cited 15 December 2020] Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-happens-when-your-immune-system-gets-stressed-out/

  5. Milner, C., Cote, K. Benefits of napping in healthy adults: impact of nap length, time of day, age, and experience with napping. Journal of Sleep Research. [Internet] 2009. [cited 22 December 2020] Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00718.x

  6. Carmichael, S. Working Long Hours Makes Us Drink More. Harvard Business Review. [Internet] 2015. [cited 22 December 2020] Available from: https://hbr.org/2015/04/working-long-hours-makes-us-drink-more