New Year’s resolutions – and how to keep them

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It’s that time of the year again: The making and breaking of New Year’s resolutions. Whether you are still sticking to your plan or have already derailed, we are bringing you tips on how to keep the most commonly broken resolutions according to Time Magazine.

“New Year’s resolutions can be a really good thing – just keep them positive and make sure to prepare to deal with setbacks,” Missouri Western counselor Steve Potter recommends.

1. Volunteer

Volunteering is a noble task and many people set out to help more in their community – but it can be hard to fit it into your schedule and regularly donate time and effort. To combat this, volunteering should be treated as a priority. After all, you can always find a way to accomplish what you set out to do.

Madison Lands, a sophomore Criminal Justice major, has volunteered at Western’s food pantry since the beginning of the year.

“I’ve volunteered before through church. This year, I actually planned my schedule around being able to volunteer,” Lands says.

And while Lands enjoys helping people, there’s another benefit to it: “It’ll look good on my application for law school.”

Lands recommends students who are interested in volunteering on campus to “join the Rotaract Club. They help with organizing volunteer work and get started.”

2. Learn something new

Making this resolution is already the first step to keeping it. An open mind and willingness to learn new things are the most important things when it comes to sticking with it, Potter says.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the times we do tend to be close-minded. So, I think it never hurts to hear opposing views or different ideas or to expand our knowledge on certain thing. For that to happen, there has to be this willingness to explore new things,” Potter explains.

And while stepping out of your comfort zone might seems scary in the beginning, the experiences gained from it are often priceless and broaden your horizon. After all, that’s what college is for.

3. Get out of debt and save money

Money problems and financial issues are often cause for anxiety and create distress, Potter says.

“We all know that the cost of college is very expensive, and students have to take out loans, sometimes work one or more jobs,” Potter says.

According to the Wallstreet Journal, a student who graduated in 2015 had a student loan debt of a little over $35,000 – no surprise money is a concern for many students.

While the counseling center does not give out financial plans, talking about financial struggles often releases some of the anxiety.

Students who are seeking more advice can find countless tips and tools on the internet.

4. Spend more time with family

How much time students wants and needs to spend with their family completely depends on the individual – there is no recommended amount of family time.

“Some students don’t even want to spend more time with their family and might be stressed out by them, and that’s perfectly fine,” Potter says.

However, there are students who look to connect a bit more, especially if they are going to school away from home. Potter recommends tools like email, Skype and phone calls to stay close – and regular visits if desired.

5. Be less stressed

As a college student, stress comes with the territory.That’s why it is important to learn how to deal with stressful situations.

“Students need to develop what I call coping mechanisms,” Potter says.

These can be different from person to person. Possible mechanisms include hanging out with friends, making more positive friends, using meditation, taking a yoga class, getting involved in new things or exercising. Potter recommends to have at least seven really good coping mechanisms.

6. Travel to new places

All too often, traveling somewhere new and exotic tends to be more of a fantasy then a reality. It’s not uncommon to dream of sitting on the beaches of Costa Rica or exploring the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but making it happen is a different story.

There are many factors to keep in mind before packing your bags and hitting the road. For instance: saving money, obtaining a passport and deciding on a location. Deir Montiel, International Student Services Assistant, gives a few pointers on how to keep the resolution in the new year.

“Make sure you do your homework,” Montiel said. “When you get to the country, be aware of the dollar and currency.”

Although the task of going somewhere new can be tedious, it also comes with many benefits. Learning about new cultures, meeting new people and creating new memories are just a few of the advantages of traveling to different places.

7. Lose weight and get fit

Losing weight may be the most common New Year’s resolution to date, but it’s also one of the hardest to keep. Justin Kraft, chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, gives tips on ways to stay motivated and lose the pounds.

“The biggest pointer I can give, especially if their New Year’s resolution is in regard to fitness, is to find a fitness activity that they like,” Kraft said. “The number one predictor of wether or not someone will maintain a behavior is enjoyment.”

8. Eat healthier and diet

Eating healthy comes with many benefits, but it can be hard to stay away from the local McDonald’s and the $5 deals.

“A couple of tips for eating healthy is to pick lifestyle changes that you can make,” Kraft said.

One change to think about making is what sort of food and products you put in your cart at the grocery store. Instead of chips and cookies, go for apples and oranges.

“One of the tips I give to people is to shop the outside of the grocery store,” Kraft said. “If you think about going to your local grocery store, all of the fresh foods are on the outside and all of the processed foods are in the inside.”

9. Drink less

Some say that drinking comes second nature for several college students. Many events and situations such as parties, tailgating and stress can add to the pressure of drinking to much.

“One thing you want to be able to do when maintaining a behavior is anticipate what we can call a high-risk situations,” Kraft said. “What I mean by high-risk is putting yourself in an environment that causes you to act in a certain way.”

The main tip for drinking less is to stay clear from situations where heavy drinking will be present. People tend to behave in ways cohesive with the environment they are in.

So, when going out or attending a party, keep a few things in mind: the availability of alcohol, the place or location you are going to and the people you will be going with.

10. Quit smoking

If this is your New Year’s resolution, then you have taken a dramatic step in increasing your overall health. We all know quitting can be hard, but there some helpful tips out there to keep in mind.

“Quitting smoking is a really, really difficult thing,” Kraft said. “One of the things that most people don’t realize is that the physiological addiction to smoking is actually broken very quickly, a lot of it is the phycological addiction that we get.”

Some more tips Kraft gives include keeping in mind the high-risk situations which cause you to smoke. These can be staying clear of the places you often go to smoke, managing your stress and finding other ways of fidgeting besides holding a cigarette.