Start the new year off with a positive mindset
by Jay Nachman
Resolutions are a great way to welcome in the new year.
But don’t go overboard, and be flexible.
That is the advice of Tania Giovannetti, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Temple University.
“(The) new year is a time when people try to make changes. Being persistent and having a lot of grit to persevere in these goals is important but it is also important that we’re flexible in our approach,” said Giovannetti, who studies memory changes and dementia in older adults. “You might start with a specific goal in mind but think carefully about what you realistically can achieve. For example, when setting a fitness goal, you might choose a different activity that suits you better now than what you have done in the past. If you enjoyed weightlifting or running, consider yoga or walking. Think of flexibility as a new approach to achieve your goals.”
Research shows that even making small changes is effective. “You make small changes in your life with the idea that the smaller the change, the more likely you are to stick with it. But over time, the effects of even very small changes can be really striking,” she said.
It is also important to keep a positive mindset when pursuing your goals. “You might be really achieving your fitness goal by staying on a very a strict diet. But you also might be very miserable. That low mood might counteract the gains from the physical fitness,” she said. Liz Dunleavy, an aging life care specialist with Kith Elder Care in Center City, noted that as the calendar turns over, coupled with the isolation that COVID-19 brings, “It’s okay to feel down, or feel blue. It’s nothing you should be ashamed of. There are resources, tips and tricks to help over come those feelings.”
If you’re feeling isolated, it’s okay to reach out and let people know. “We’re humans, we’re interconnected,” said Dunleavy, who is also a licensed social worker. “We need connections with other people. You don’t always have to wait for the phone to ring. You can be the one to initiate the call. So, if you’re thinking of someone, [consider] how nice it would be to pick up the phone and give them a call. I’m sure it would mean a lot to them. It’s nice to hear from an old friend or family member and have a conversation.”
Also if you’re interested in staying connected, volunteering can nourish your spirit. “It always feels good when you are contributing or helping,” she said. “Looking into volunteer opportunities that you might be able to do to help others in the community is a positive way to start the new year and gives you a sense of connectivity.”
If going to a gym or older adult community center for exercise is not possible, there are a host of online workout programs to consider. Additionally, with more businesses shuttered at moment or having to allow limited capacities, many local gyms and yoga studios are offering online programming.
“I think it’s all interconnected – the mind, body, spirit,” Dunleavy said. “If you try to focus on improving or addressing each of those categories, hopefully, in the new year you’ll have a better frame of mind and it will improve your outlook on life.”
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