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  • Marie Belzile-Davidson, MS Nutrition Student

Instead of a New Year's resolution, try adopting a new mantra!

Are all the posts and conversations about New Year’s resolutions and setting lofty goals for 2022 making your head spin? You are not alone.

These kinds of posts and discussions use to raise my heart rate and anxiety! I felt like society expected that each year, we should all be striving to do more, be leaner, be more perfect, you name it. Those societal standards are what so many New Year's resolutions seem to stem from. I find them exhausting and impossible to live up to!

Over the last couple of years, I have come to realize (thanks to the help of family, friends, and health professionals) that the only person who should be influencing my expectations of myself is, well, me!

We cannot easily control societal expectations, but we can control our thoughts. Those real or perceived standards can be hard to shut out, and subsequently, it can feel like you have to set grand resolutions every New Year. I get it, it is a struggle for me too!

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to the idea of a mantra - a phrase I could repeat to myself in my head or out loud, to help me recenter my thoughts. At first, I thought it was a bit odd- I did not think I needed a specific set of words to help me bring my focus back to myself. I could not have been more wrong. The more I stuck with using my mantra, the more value I started to see in it.

Since then, I ditched the New Year's resolutions. Instead, I see the New Year as a time to reevaluate my mantra and determine if it still fits my goals and expectations for myself. If it is still relevant, I keep it! If I feel the need for a little change (life is dynamic!), I adjust it. When I feel those societal norms getting to me or I sense that I have lost focus on what I truly want for myself, I turn to my mantra.

A mantra does not have to be complicated, you have enough on your plate. Keep it simple! It is not something you have to share with anyone. It can just be between you and your mind. You can have one mantra or many! Maybe you want one to help you stay focused on your goals and desires for yourself and another one to help you settle in and focus on work. The beauty of mantras is that they are versatile and can be changed.

Instead of feeling the pressure and stress to strive for unattainable perfection through lofty New Year's resolutions, try adopting a mantra to help you stay focused on what you really want for yourself!

Here are some examples of mantras - do not stress about making yours perfect, it is unique to you.

"I create my own path and expectations for myself."

"I can do a lot of things but I cannot do everything."

"It is ok to ask for help when I feel overwhelmed."

"I am in control of how I feel and react."

Also, here is a friendly reminder that you, your mind, and your body have been and are still going through a pandemic! Even when the end is in sight, we should not expect ourselves to just bounce right back. We have been managing extra stress, constantly changing needs, and copious amounts of uncertainty. It is ok if you do not have big goals for the New Year. A mantra can help you cope in times of stress, and help you embrace progress over perfection.

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