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After tough year, psychologist says to focus on manageable New Year's resolutions

Posted at 10:07 AM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 10:07:33-05

With 2021 right around the corner, many are thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

After a hard year, an expert tells us you may want to focus more on reflecting on the things that did make you happy in 2020 and plan small changes that could make those things better in the coming year.

“In the process of paying more attention and being more aware, we might actually come upon or notice things in life that we hadn't noticed that actually are already pretty positive or good or enjoyable that we might be missing when we're in autopilot,” said Sophie Lazarus, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Lazarus says these small changes could be as simple as staying off your phone while on a walk and really taking in your surroundings or limiting distractions while you enjoy a meal.

Big lifestyle changes like starting a new exercise routine require a lot of energy.

Because so many people have been more stressed this year, Lazarus says it's extra important to go easier on yourself when thinking about resolutions.

“When we're hard on ourselves, when we are unkind, we feel bad and that doesn't motivate us often, right when we're feeling bad, we're feeling discouraged, that's not when we want to persist,” said Lazarus.

As Lazarus points out, people generally don't usually keep big New Year's resolutions.

Those smaller changes in mindset or daily activities can be easier to manage, and still give you a sense of accomplishment.