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Regular exercise ‘best for mental health’ – BBC News

Regular exercise ‘best for mental health’

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Regular physical activity lasting 45 minutes three to five times a week can reduce poor mental health – but doing more than that is not always beneficial, a large US study suggests.

A total of 1.2 million people reported their activity levels for a month and rated their mental wellbeing.

People who exercised had 1.5 fewer “bad days” a month than non-exercisers, the study found.

Team sports, cycling and aerobics had the greatest positive impact.

All types of activity were found to improve mental health no matter people’s age or gender, including doing the housework and looking after the children.

The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal, is the largest of its kind to date but it cannot confirm that physical activity is the cause of improved mental health.

Previous research into the effects of exercise on mental health have thrown up mixed results, and some studies suggest that lack of activity could lead to poor mental health as well as being a symptom of it.

Exercise is already known to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Adults taking part in the study said they experienced on average 3.4 days of poor mental health each month. For those who were physically active, this reduced to only two days.

Among people who had been diagnosed previously with depression, exercise appeared to have a larger effect, resulting in seven days of poor mental health a month compared with nearly 11 days for those who did no exercise.

How often and for how long people were active was also important.

Being active for 30 to 60 minutes every second day came out as the optimal routine.

But there could be such a thing as doing too much exercise, the study concluded.

Dr Adam Chekroud, study author and assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University, said: “Previously, people have believed that the more exercise you do, the better your mental health, but our study suggests that this is not the case.

“Doing exercise more than 23 times a month, or exercising for longer than 90-minute sessions is associated with worse mental health.”

He said the positive impact of team sports suggested that social sports activities could reduce isolation and be good for resilience, while also reducing depression.

Complicated link

The findings back up government guidelines recommending that people should do 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

But the study has some limitations. It is based on self-reporting, which is not always accurate, and there is no way of measuring physical activity.

Dr Dean Burnett, neuroscientist and honorary research associate, from the school of psychology at Cardiff University, said the link between exercise and mental health had been difficult to pin down but this large study “strongly suggests that there is a definite association between the two”.

“However, the nature of the study means it’s difficult to say more than that with any real certainty,” he said.

Prof Stephen Lawrie, head of psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh, said it indicated that social and “mindful” exercise is particularly good for mental health – but not if it is overdone.

“I suspect we all know people who seem ‘addicted’ to exercise and if this starts to impact on other aspects of life – like foregoing social activities because one has to be up at the crack of dawn to run several miles – it might actually be bad for people,” he added.

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45116607

On – 08 Aug, 2018 By


How To Talk About Your Mental Health When No One Wants To Listen | HuffPost

Opening up with phrases like “I need to speak with you,” “I need your help,” or “Please listen

According to the American Psychiatric Association, people from racial and ethnic minority groups are less likely to receive mental health care than the rest of the U.S. population.

Communities of color often lack adequate access to medical treatment for mental illnesses. They also face challenges like higher levels of stigma, misinformation and language barriers.

“While an individual may have their own [mixed feelings] toward how they think about mental health, it is then intertwined within the views that were being expressed within their household, school, work and so on,” said Shari Fedra, a licensed clinical social worker based in Brooklyn, New York.

But those barriers can be broken down. HuffPost asked several psychologists and mental health care providers who primarily treat patients of color how to have an effective and serious conversation about mental health and why it’s so hard to talk about in the first place. Here’s their advice:

Seeking professional help is OK ― even if it doesn’t seem like it.

June Cao, a New York-based clinical psychologist who specializes in working with Asian-Americans, said that one of her clients shared that silence was the default mode of communication between her family members.

“Her parents told her over and over that she just needed to endure and tough through, then her depression would be gone,” Cao said.

Cao’s patient is part of a larger trend: Asian-Americans are three times less likely to seek mental health services than whites, according to the American Psychological Association.

Karen Caraballo, a clinical psychologist working with Latino families in Brooklyn, said that because of the significant value placed on family, many members of the Latino community do not seek outside help for mental health problems.

“Latinos are expected to rely on [immediate] family, extended family, church, el curandero and friends,” Caraballo said. (A curandero is a spiritual guide within a community that people go to when they are sick.) “We are expected to keep our problems within our inner circle.”

Knowing when to see a medical professional for your mental health is important because the longer you go untreated, the more potential consequences could arise, including the worsening of your symptoms.

“The pressure to hide your problems could make you more fearful of your mental illness and cause you to isolate yourself,” Cao said. “Transparency and awareness is probably the most successful way to overcome this fear.”

Assert the importance of conversation.

When dealing with friends or family members who aren’t as open to talking about your experiences or getting professional help, Cao suggested that you should genuinely and assertively request a conversation by using phrases like “I need to speak with you,” “I need your help,” or “Please listen to me before you say anything.”

B. Nilaja Green, a licensed clinical psychologist based in Atlanta, said that you should find a time to speak to your loved ones when they are calm and you can have their full attention.

“Be as transparent with them as possible about what you’re experiencing, how these experiences are impacting you, and why you believe the experiences are serious enough to warrant outside intervention,” Green said.

Use language that your loved one can understand.

When discussing a topic as sensitive as mental health, you want to make sure that you communicate in a way that makes sense for both the person you’re talking to and yourself.

Cao recommended doing this by avoiding general and weighted vocabulary such as “mental disorder” or “abnormal,” as this may reintroduce the feeling of shame associated with these terms. Instead, try starting the conversation by talking about any physical symptoms you may be feeling, such as a loss in appetite or insomnia that will help break the ice.

“You may find it easier to communicate about physical symptoms first, like insomnia and appetite changes, because there is no stigma or shame attached,” Cao said.

It’s also important that you communicate in a tone that makes you sound open to receiving feedback if that is your goal of the conversation.

“We often notice another person’s resistance without being mindful of our own resistances,” Fedra said. “Create an open [atmosphere] within your communication style by being mindful of your words, tone and feelings.”

Religion and mental health support aren’t mutually exclusive.

One of the main reasons mental health usually isn’t openly talked about within the black community is because of the reliance on religious beliefs to solve or fix mental health issues without considering additional supportive resources, Green said.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, only about 25 percent of African Americans seek mental health care, compared to 40 percent of whites.

“I have heard clients share that family members and friends have either undermined them going to treatment and/or referred them back to the church as their most appropriate source for healing and help,” Green explained.

If religion is a major part of your family’s lifestyle, Green said that you could inform your loved ones that there are resources that cater to families with religious backgrounds.

“There are counselors and therapists of varying religious backgrounds who integrate their faith into the work,” Green said. “Even if you do not want to go to a therapist who identifies themselves in a particular way, most therapists have training that allows them to appreciate and respect the religious beliefs of their clients.”

Take advantage of outside resources.

If you are absolutely unable to talk to relatives or friends about the state of your mental health, there are several other options to choose from.

“Seek professional help from a psychologist, psychotherapist, mental health
counselors who speak your language and understand your cultural background,” Cao recommended.

If you believe you’ll have trouble paying for treatment, Cao said you can seek help from hospitals and clinics that offer appointments on a sliding scale adjusted for income. There are also online options and free alternatives that can still be helpful, like support groups. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America created a list of support groups throughout the U.S. that you can filter by group name or support topic.

Bottom line: Own your experiences and know that a living with a mental health condition doesn’t make you “weak.” The more you talk about it, the more people will start to pay attention. Experts agree that open communication can play a vital role in eliminating the shame and stigma surrounding mental health.

“Simply talking about your situation and illness to someone understanding may reduce some of the stress you have,” Cao said. “It can also help your loved ones to understand you better and relieve their concerns about you.”

Original Post

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-talk-about-mental-health_us_5b450d8ce4b0c523e263b100

On – 17 Jul, 2018 By Kristen Adaway


6 Reasons Pets Are Good Therapy for Mental Health | The Mighty

I’m a firm believer that pets are a fantastic thing for mental health. I have a mini zoo at home; we have three dogs, a rabbit, four guinea pigs and a hamster. In my opinion, pets really are a fantastic form of therapy; without mine, I don’t think I would be here. That’s the truth. They help me manage my bipolar disorder and keep me going in several ways.

1. They give you routine.

Pets give you a routine. They need to be fed, watered, cleaned out, given attention and, if you have dogs, walked at certain times during the day. For me, at least, it keeps me on track.

2. They give you purpose.

They give you something to be responsible for, which gives you a purpose during the day. This is something that even on bad days makes me feel worthy and gives me a reason to get out of bed.

3. They keep you company.

They keep you company so you are never alone. Even if I am isolated, I’m never truly on my own because I have them there.

user contributor photo of three dogs looking at camera4. They give you someone to talk to.

It’s a way to get out your thoughts and feelings without judgment because they certainly don’t talk back. If you’re lucky, they’ll act as though they’re listening.

5. They love you.

They give you complete and unconditional love; no matter what mood you are in or what you look like, they adore you and are always there for cuddles!

6. They encourage you to get outside.

My dogs get me out of the house even on days when I otherwise wouldn’t leave the house at all. They must be walked, and I love them, so that is my motivation. At times being out can start to lift my mood.

For all these reasons and more, pets really are a fantastic form of therapy for me and I’m sure for many others.

Image via contributor.

https://themighty.com/2018/07/reasons-pets-are-good-therapy-mental-health/

On – 18 Jul, 2018 By Lotus Flower


Paws and Claws Deserve Some Applause: Pets and Mental Health

Earlier this month, a UK meta-analysis of existing academic research concluded that pets provide benefits to those with mental health conditions. Led by the University of Liverpool’s Dr. Helen Louise Brooks, the analysis reviewed 17 separate studies, which in total included data from 1727 pet owners. The studies covered a gamut of pets, including dogs, cats, birds, horses and more.

Among the psychological benefits provided by pets, Brooks’ review pointed to studies that evidenced the significant benefits of canine companionship for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Physical activity and exercise, a strong mental health management tool, was also correlated with dog ownership, leading to better quality of life outcomes and increased social interactions – important things to keep in mind, next time you feel like skipping out on walking Spot.

As the meta-analysis notes, despite the identified benefits of pets, they’re often overlooked as effective tools or seen as “additional work” by health professionals. Brooks’ calls for a “cultural change” that allows pets to be considered and included as part of the support systems provided through formal service provision.

While Brooks’ recent study is an important confirmation of the healing power of pets, a growing trend recognizing the psychological benefit of animals has been popping up on campuses for years now.
Across universities and colleges in the United States and Canada, “puppy rooms” have been organized to give students a respite from studies and the opportunity to destress in a positive, furry environment.

Students are also increasingly seeking to bring their own pets to school with them to serve as “emotional support animals”. A 2016 article from the American Bar Association identified that the rise in mental illness on campuses is also correlated to the rise in emotional support animals by students –creating at tricky legal and housing landscape for schools and students to navigate. One interesting way to address, creating designated “pet” floors, was raised in a 2015 University of California, Berkley article.

Ultimately, while this study is further proof of the power of pets, it seems that the secret has been out for quite some time: approximately 63% of households in the United States have a companion animal. Dr. Maggie O’Haire, Assistant Professor of human-animal interaction at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, also notes that outside of our homes and campuses, the presence of animals in our workplaces can also help reduce stress.

Dr. O’Haire is also currently managing a study looking into the health, emotional and social quality of individuals and families living with service dogs versus those on the waitlist to receive a service dog. If you’ve read the rest of this blogpost, the results so far shouldn’t come as a surprise: individuals and their families that already had a service dog showed better social and emotional functioning compared to those without.

And for all those reading along that have felt that this post was all bark and not enough meow, the UK’s Mental Health Foundation 2011 study found that of 600 people surveyed, 87% of cat owners felt their felines had a positive impact on their wellbeing and 76% reporting that they helped them cope better with everyday life.

There’s no doubt that pets can help us achieve mentally healthier lives. For some people, their pets’ unconditional love and companionship is the reason that they continue to be, and work to be, happy. While the old adage, “dogs are a man’s best friend” still rings true today, the growing evidence shows that it’s not limited to canines: wings, scales, claws and fins, whether 2 or 4 or 8 or no legs at all, pets can be a profoundly powerful tool for helping us realize our best selves – for us, and for them.


Work Hard, Feel Good: Exercise and Mental Health

In our last blogpost, Don’t Go it Alone: Relationships are the Key to Mental Health and a Long Life, we unpacked the affirming revelations of Harvard’s Longevity Study and its conclusions on the power of strong social relationships for achieving a long and happy life.

This week, we look at another important tool for building and maintaining optimal mental health: exercise. A growing body of research continues to illuminate the importance of caring for your body as a way to care for your mind.

Studies show that physical activity can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, in a number of ways, including:

Release healthy biochemicals: If you’ve ever heard of “runner’s high”, you’ve heard about endorphins. These “feel good chemicals”, are released naturally during high-intensity exercise and can help improve brain function and boost your sense of well-being.

Build your brain: As Harvard also notes, low-intensity exercise sustained over time spurs the release of proteins called neutrotrophic or growth factors. Studies show that the hippocampus region of the brain tends to be smaller in those that are depressed. Exercise, however, can boost nerve cell growth in the hippocampus and improves nerve cell connections, helping relieve depression.

Boost self-esteem: Sadly, those with intense dissatisfaction with their appearance are “more likely” to be depressed, anxious and suicidal than those and poor mental health. While we should strive to ensure those around us are comfortable with their appearance and provide support to those that are not, exercise can be a potent tool to helping improve positive self-image and self-worth.

Fight off addiction: As the New York Times notes, those who exercise more are much less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, if compared to inactive people. In a 2012 study, exercise was shown to help those suffering undergoing addiction treatments improve their health and increase confidence in the ability to remain clean and sober. Some experts also point to the benefits of replacing “artificial highs” from drugs and alcohol with happiness and euphoria inducing biochemical, like endorphins that are released during exercise.

Make new friends: We’ve already discussed the power of social relationships to boost happiness; so naturally, team sports can be a great way to build supportive relationships and experience camaraderie. In a recent German study, researchers found that individual athletes were more prone to depressive symptoms than those who played on teams. That’s not to say you should pass on participating in solo sports but instead, find ways to ensure you experience that companionship with your competitors.

We’ve all heard the old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. While that might not be true, there is growing evidence that shows exercise can help alleviate or keep poor mental health at bay. So whether it’s starting to go for daily walks or joining your hometown sports league, it’s never too late to get moving and get happy.


Colleges are finally taking student mental health seriously; but more must be done.

It’s been nearly 15 years since Congress passed the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA) in 2004, in response to the suicide of Senator Gordon Smith’s son Garrett Lee a year earlier, while attending college in Utah. He was 22. The bipartisan supported Bill recognized the growing mental health crisis on college campuses and created and funded programs to address mental health in the young, including a Campus Suicide Prevention program. Since then, the GLSMA has bolstered campus mental health and suicide prevention programs across the U.S.

Today, the evidence shows that America’s postsecondary institutions are recognizing the need for greater mental health awareness and ensuring that staff have the resources they need to support students. In 2016, the majority of college counseling centers reported an increase in funding from their universities. Schools are enhancing important mental health resources like 24/7 crisis counselors and online therapy assistance, as well as other approaches, like therapy dog sessions and other wellness oriented activities. Other campuses are partnering with non-profit programs, like the Jed Foundation, which provides participating schools with a framework to better equip schools to help solve mental health issues.

And more and more, faculty and students are taking another crucial step in building a more supportive environment for students experiencing mental health issues by raising awareness and working to end the stigma. This is an important evolution at colleges across the world that must be celebrated.

However, it is clear that more can be, and must be, done.

While mental health resourcing has increased at colleges across America, so too have student enrollments and students seeking mental health services. The Center for Collegiate Mental Health found that while enrollment grew by 5.6% between 2009 and 2015, the amount of students seeking mental health services increased by 29.6%. There was also a marked increase in medication, hospitalizations and suicide attempts between 2010 and 2016.

Anxiety and depression continue to be the biggest mental health issues afflicting students. Between 2011 and 2016, undergraduates reporting “overwhelming anxiety” rose 12% from 50% to 62%; overtaking depression for the most common reason for students to seek counselling services. The American College Health Association recently reported that nearly 37% of students declared they were “so depressed that it was difficult to function” within the last 12 months. This data represents a significant recent increase in mental health issues and service needs on campuses.

With increased student demand for mental health services and an insufficient supply of therapeutic resources, more and more professors are stepping up to plug the gaps. As Slate reports, some schools are offering faculty development programs and training instructors to recognize symptoms and to assist students in crisis. While the training is beneficial, it is unsafe to assume this model can effectively substitute for professional therapy and support services.

While schools must get better at ensuring sufficient supports are available, they must also ensure they’re collecting data to better understand and prevent the consequences of significant mental health events, like suicide. In early 2018, the Associated Press’ annual suicide statistic survey revealed that nearly half of the largest public universities in the United States are not tracking student suicides –an omission that makes it harder to adapt campus policy and save lives.

Ultimately, it is clear that while schools are taking steps to address student mental health, more must be done if we’re going to solve the crisis on our campuses. School faculty and management must continue to work to ensure sufficient mental health services are available to meet student needs. Students must continue to fight to end the stigma around mental health issues and assist classmates that are in need. Together, we can help build an educational experience that is safe, supportive and leaves no one behind.


Relationships are the Key to Mental Health and a Long Life

In 1938, Harvard University researchers began tracking the health of 268 sophomores in a study that would extend through their entire lives. The purpose: to determine if there were key psychosocial predictors of healthy aging and happiness through life.

The Grant Study, and the subsequent Glueck study tracked participants’ as they graduated into careers, to marriages, children, divorces and other milestones, through medical records, in-person interviews and questionnaires.

More than any other factor, including pre-existing health conditions, IQ or wealth, satisfaction with one’s close relationships was the best predictor of a long and happy life. Closely linked was marital satisfaction, which had a “protective effect” on the participant’s mental health.

Not surprisingly, the study also found that those who lived longest avoided smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. While the physical dangers of cigarettes and alcohol use are well known, less acknowledged are their correlations with mental illness.

Scientific American recently reported that while overall smoking rates have dropped from 42 per cent in 1965 to 15 per cent in 2015, those suffering from mental illness or substance use disorders accounted for “nearly 40 per cent of cigarette consumption by US adults in 2009 and 2011”.

For Robert Waldinger, current director of Harvard’s longitudinal study puts it, loneliness kills, and it’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.

For many, the answer is simple: continue to work to maintain good relationships with friends, family and colleagues throughout your life to help achieve a happy and long life.

For those feeling isolated and lonely – it’s not too late to nurture new relationships and to watch them flourish. Harvard also recommends exploring community social activities as a way to meet new people. Whether it’s volunteering or joining a sport’s team, new friends and better health could be just around the corner. It’s not just your health either – reaching out to someone might just help improve their quality of life as well.

And according to researchers from Northwestern University and the University of California, having different friends to help with specific moods can lead to greater well-being and life satisfaction. So treat life like a garden, nurture your relationships and help them grow and while you’re at it, cultivate many different friends for all of life’s moments. Can you dig it?


Social Media and Mental Health: What do you need to know?

It’s no understatement to say that social media has revolutionized the world we live in.

The way we meet, engage, discuss important issues, do business with each other, fall in love and stay connected can all be conducted on the many platforms and offerings that the digital realm of social media has provided. Today, over three billion people – approximately 40 per cent of the world’s population – use social media daily, cataloguing their lives and observing others. Since the first social media site in 1997, the social media community has grown exponentially, resulting in users spending hours online digesting social content, which has been good for site traffic and the bottom lines of social giants like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

But is it for us? A new series by BBC Future is exploring how social media’s impacts our mental health, for the better or the worse. As the investigation acknowledges, our ability to examine the long-term effects of social media are limited by its relatively recent arrival and mass acceptance. But there’s a growing body of science that is dissecting what social media is doing to our brains and what that means for our wellbeing. Here are a few of the studies the investigation has shared so far:

STRESS: A 2015 Pew Research study found that while Twitter can be a significant contributor to stress, the more that women used Twitter, the less stressed they were. While the study also found women reported higher stress levels than men, the de-stressing effects of Twitter usage were only concluded in women.

ANXIETY: A 2016 US study concluded that people using seven or more social media sites were more likely to experience high levels of general anxiety symptoms, compared to those who used up to two platforms.

DEPRESSION:  According to two studies that involved more than 700 students, the quality of online interactions, including social media were linked to depressive symptoms. Poorer interactions resulted in more severe depressive symptoms.

SLEEP:  In a 2016 study, University of Pittsburgh researchers found that the more often 18-30 year olds logged into social media, the more likely they were to suffer from disturbed sleep. Evidence has shown that the blue light emitted from device screens can disrupt the body’s production of melatonin – a hormone that enables sleep.

SELF-ESTEEM: Call it selfie sadness? Penn State University researchers found in a 2016 study that looking at strangers’ selfies resulted in a lower self-esteem for the viewer. The phenomenon was linked to viewers comparing their own state to the seemingly happy demeanor of the person in the selfie. In addition, frequent selfie viewing was linked to decreased life satisfaction.

RELATIONSHIPS: In a 2009 survey of 300 people between the ages of 17 and 24, researchers from University of Guelph in Ontario found that women were more likely than men to report Facebook induced jealousy after their partner added an unknown member of the sex.

So should we sign-off from our social media accounts for good? Hold on – while there’s a lot of evidence out there demonstrating that social media’s ills, there’s also reason to believe that it can have a positive impact. Like anything, it seems that moderation is key – a 2017 evidence review by the Education Policy Institute found that a moderate use of social media can have a “beneficial impact on young people’s emotional wellbeing.”

Social media platforms are also taking note of the growing concern about how social media impacts our mental health. In December 2017, Facebook announced it was enacting changes to its site to help improve the site’s effect on our wellbeing, including enhancing news feed quality, introducing suicide prevention tools and allowing us to “Snooze” a person, page or group for 30 days without having to permanently unfollow or unfriend them.

Social media has become an important part of our daily lives but that doesn’t mean we should let it control our lives. Go ahead and log on once in a while and focus on having positive interactions online and you’ll be much happier for it.


Mindfulness training can help students keep calm and carry on in exam season

A new study from the University of Cambridge recommends that mindfulness training can ward off mental illness and boost student mental health over the demanding exam season.

The practice of “mindfulness” has captured many minds in recent years as a capable approach to focus attention on the present, achieve calm and combat depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.

One group of the study’s participants took part in an eight-week course, guided by a certified mindfulness teacher and were also encouraged to practice mindfulness activities, like meditation, mindful walking, eating and more. The other group were only offered traditional university support and counselling services. The study’s results showed that that while students without mindfulness training experienced increased stress throughout the academic year, distress scores among the mindfulness group fell below their baseline levels, even during exam season.

Researchers designed the program to optimize wellbeing and mental health resilience for students by promoting values like self-compassion, self-discovery and empowerment. Over 600 Cambridge students took part in the study.

The study comes at an important time. As the Guardian reports, students seeking counselling services rose by 50 per cent between 2010 and 2015 in the UK. The need for greater access to mental health services across campuses is growing, and the need for new strategies, like mindfulness training, could help.

In Canada, the American College Health Association’s 2013-2016 survey of 25,164 Ontario university students found that cases of anxiety, depression and suicide attempts have all risen approximately 50 per cent. A Toronto Star and Ryerson survey also found that the average increase for mental health budgets across 15 Canadian universities and colleges reviewed was 35 per cent.

Researchers concluded that mindfulness training could be an effective component of a wider student mental health strategy. While the study suggests that mindfulness training is a potent tool for students to maintain and improve their mental health, findings on its effects on exam results were inconclusive.


4 Tips for Setting New Year’s Resolutions

The new year is upon us, but if you’re like most people, your New Year’s resolutions will fail by the time February hits. According to Forbes, only eight percent of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. If you’re already falling behind this year, don’t fret. It’s never too late to reevaluate your fitness and health goals. Start with these four tips for setting New Year’s resolutions that stick.

Start Small

One reason New Year’s resolutions fail is because people set large goals that quickly become overwhelming. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed with your New Year’s resolution, take a step back and consider ways to simplify your goals.

For example, instead of focusing on losing sixty pounds this year, start with the small goal of losing five pounds this month. It’s essentially the same goal, but focusing on the smaller, shorter term goal is more manageable. Plus, once you accomplish this goal once, it makes doing it again next month that much easier.

Another reason simplicity helps is because it keeps your focus from being pulled in too many different directions. If you resolutions list is long, consider cutting it down to one or two of your most important goals.

Be Specific

Another reason people fail with their New Year’s resolutions is because they aren’t specific with their goals. For example, you might decide to “exercise more.” The problem with this resolution is that it provides no direction. What exactly does this mean to you?

A more specific goal would be to do thirty minutes of cardio three days per week. By defining your goals like this, you can better track and measure them to ensure you’re on the track you want to be on.

Stay Accountable

It’s easy to give up on your goals when you’re not being held accountable for them. That’s why it’s a good idea to get other people involved in helping you achieve your goals. For example, you might hire a personal fitness trainer to help you reach your fitness goals. With someone besides yourself to answer to, they’ll be able to help you stay on track, keep your appointments, and push toward the goals you want to achieve. You might also:

  • Document your journey on social media
  • Share your successes and setbacks with a friend or family member
  • Keep an accountability journal
  • Join a group—such as a fitness class or online support group—of like-minded individuals with similar goals

Don’t Get Discouraged

A minor setback does not equate to failure. Unfortunately, many people will see it this way and give up far too early.

Let’s say your goal is to exercise three times per week. Due to unforeseen circumstances, you miss a workout session and only get in two workouts that week.

This does not mean you’ve failed. It does not mean you have to cancel all future workout sessions.

Don’t let one missed session discourage you. Simply pick up your regularly scheduled workout sessions next week, and continue pushing toward your goals.

Remember, you are in control of your success. Setting small, specific goals, staying accountable, and not giving up will help you achieve your dreams.