Celebrate a New Year and a New You

by Kristen Bevill, MD

Dr. Bevill is a board certified psychiatrist experienced in adolescent, adult, and geriatric psychiatry.

It's the start of the New Year, a traditional time to think about personal growth and how to improve yourself and your life in 2016. If you've made a New Year's Resolution, you are not alone. In fact, 45 percent of Americans make a resolution every year.

Some of the most common resolutions are to lose weight or get fit, get organized, spend less or save more money, quit smoking, learn something new, find love, and spend more time with family. But too often, people set expectations and deadlines for their resolutions that are unrealistic. As a consequence, only eight percent of the people who make resolutions succeed in achieving their goals.1

So how can you use that information to become a better you in 2016? Well, it can help you decide what's really important at your stage of life to feel better about yourself and to get more joy out of every day.

As we grow older, our needs and priorities change. In its 2015 United States of Aging Survey, the National Council on Aging asked older adults about their top concerns and goals for living a more satisfactory life. Physical health, memory loss, and mental health ranked as the most important issues for seniors. Keeping a positive attitude topped the list of goals as the key to stay mentally sharp, followed by exercising, eating healthy, and staying socially active.

Remember, even small changes can make a big difference in how you feel about yourself, others, and your surroundings.

Here are some tips to help guide you:

1. Celebrate the life you have. Resolve to appreciate the people and things around you, focus on your relationships and to smile more often. Likely, you'll find people smiling back, and that can have a profound affect on your overall health and wellbeing.

2. Take a personal inventory. People often de-clutter their lives by downsizing possessions or living space. Is it time to de-clutter your emotional life, too? Leaving negative feelings and old baggage in the past can help you make room for new possibilities and positive experiences.

3. Set realistic goals for change. Transforming some aspect of your life doesn't have to be a dramatic shift. It can be a process of replacing old habits or behaviors with more beneficial ones, like resolving to walk a few more steps each week or working a crossword puzzle instead of watching TV more often.

The point is, a new you starts with becoming a better you. January through the springtime months can be a stressful time for many older adults who may feel anxious about making changes or about what the New Year will bring. If you experience feelings of being overwhelmed or depressed, Brightside is an intensive outpatient program located on the Covington County Hospital campus that specializes in helping senior adults cope with clinical depression or other mental health issues.

To schedule a free evaluation, call 601-765-4600.

1 Statistic Brain.com - source: University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, January 26th, 2015