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aislin daugherty (the writer)
aislin daugherty (the writer)
Photo courtesy of Aislin Daugherty
Wellness > Mental Health

How My New Year’s Resolutions Will Help Me, Even If I Don’t Stick To Them

During my high school’s senior trip to New York City in December 2022, there was a booth in the center of Times Square promoting New Year’s resolutions. We were invited to write down our resolutions and wishes for the new year on small pieces of paper that fell as confetti when the ball dropped at midnight, and seeing others’ wishes reinforced the idea that all people are entering the new year in solidarity.

Every December, I come up with an intricate list of New Year’s resolutions to start my year off on a positive note. However, as a student, girlfriend, sister, daughter, and friend, fulfilling some of these resolutions along with getting acclimated to a new semester, maintaining my relationships, and squeezing in time to relax and enjoy my college years is simply unattainable. When one resolution falls off my radar, the rest tend to follow. This year, however, one of my main goals is to be kinder to myself, and that includes refraining from setting unachievable expectations for myself.

new year\'s resolutions in times square, new york city
Photo by Aislin Daugherty

The Almanac dates the tradition of New Year’s resolutions back to the time of the Babylonians and Romans. The 12-day Babylonian festival Akitu marked the renewal of the King’s mandate, which translates to today as we celebrate the renewal of life in the new year. Although resolutions have drastically changed over time, the significance of these well wishes has continued since 2000 B.C.

For Forbes, sociologist Tracery Brower, Ph.D., outlined four benefits to making New Year’s resolutions, even if you do not keep them. Whether you keep them or not, New Year’s resolutions require intention, which is the first step to prosperity in the new year. They also evoke hopefulness within you: By heading into January with optimism, you’re already halfway to meeting your goals. They can teach you accountability (which will help you hold yourself accountable in all other aspects of your life, too). Finally, by creating New Year’s resolutions for yourself, you will inspire others around you to do the same, so you can all grow in health and happiness in the new year together.

Now, let’s look at my New Year’s Resolutions to prioritize my mental health in 2024, and maybe you can take some inspiration for your own resolutions.

Keep all my notifications off.

I turned all my phone notifications off (with the exception of iMessage and phone calls) as a resolution three years ago, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Eliminating notifications that tempt me to spend hours on Instagram, TikTok, or Pinterest has decreased my screen time and allowed me to focus my attention on more important things like schoolwork and my relationships. Additionally, a 2023 study by researchers at Iowa State University found that higher social media usage directly correlates to increased anxiety, depression, and loneliness, so I plan to continue with this resolution this year (and every year forward) to prioritize myself and my health.

Read one book a month.
everything i know about love by dolly alderton and the writer\'s journal
Photo by Aislin Daugherty

I used to read a lot when I was young, but I fell out of the habit once I reached high school. With so much more on my plate, I felt like there was always something more beneficial I could be doing instead of reading. Even now, I find it hard to pick up a book and focus while so many other responsibilities are clouding my brain. In 2024, I want to begin reading more. Reading gives you the opportunity to escape the stress of real life and explore different worlds; I have many books on my reading wishlist, and I am excited to start growing my bookshelf and exploring the different stories I can be transported into.

Take more pictures.
aislin daugherty (the writer) and friends
Photo courtesy of Aislin Daugherty

One of my favorite pastimes is scrolling through my camera roll and reliving the joy exhibited in all my photos. I love taking pictures of anything and everything, but sometimes, embarrassment floods my brain as I wonder what other people will think if I pull out my camera. Will I kill the mood? What if it comes out bad; is it even worth it? Appreciating something so much, however, deserves to be documented and remembered. So this year, I am going in with the courage to take the picture. Because honestly, you will never regret taking the picture, but you will always regret not taking the picture.

Declutter my phone and room.

A cluttered room is a cluttered life. Believe it or not, a lot of stress comes from physical clutter. Typically, people come home after a long day to relax and spend time on their phones as a reward for hard work. When these two supposedly safe spaces become too “busy,” however, it affects mental and physical health. Clutter can lead to excess stress, difficulty focusing, and procrastination, among many other negative effects. In order to begin the new year with a healthy approach, start by throwing away or deleting excessive items in your physical and technological spaces in order to have a cleansed mind and body.

Listen to more podcasts.

I have a few podcasts I listen to twice a month or so, but I have never really gotten into a podcast. One of my goals this year is to take time out of my week to listen to a podcast episode relevant to my life or for fun. Some of my favorites that I listen to periodically include Miss Congeniality with Eli Rallo, Kelsey Kreppel’s Circle Time, and Victoria Garrick Browne’s Real Pod, but I would like to dedicate more time to self-help podcasts that focus on stress relief, mental health, and anxiety to become more understanding about what I struggle with and find ways to ease myself.

Journal and write letters.

Journaling is an effective and healthy way to track and express emotions, insecurities, and other feelings without feeling pressure from the friends, family, or professionals you would otherwise be talking to. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center affirm that journaling can help you manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression, among other benefits, and suggest tips on how to start.

While journaling is almost like writing letters to myself, I also want to write more letters to others. Handwritten letters are one of the purest forms of love. I love receiving them, so this year, I want to make others feel as happy as I do when I get letters and start sending more, especially to my friends and family who I live far from. Journals and letters are amazing ways to document your life and show those around you that you love them and are thinking of them, and simply being thought of is one of the biggest compliments in the world. So join me this year in writing more letters, to ourselves and to others!

In 2024, remember to prioritize kindness toward yourself and others, and happy New Year!

Aislin is a first-year Strategic Communication student in the Honors Program at The Ohio State University from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Along with a B.A. in Strategic Communication, she is also pursuing a minor in Professional Writing. Beyond Her Campus, Aislin is the Special Projects Director at The PRactice, Ohio State’s student-run public relations firm, and a member of PRSSA, BuckeyeTHON, and Pi Beta Phi. In her free time, Aislin enjoys traveling, experimenting with new recipes, listening to music, watching sports, playing with her dogs, and hanging out with family and friends.