A New Year, A New Start

It’s that time of year again; the autumn leaves vanish, leaving the trees completely bare, and a winter chill seeps through the air. ('Tis officially the season to break out the puffy coat and scarf as well.) A new year is here once again, and what I love about this annual transition is that a new year equals a new slate -- a fresh start.

Many aim to follow through with resolutions, asserting certain goals that call for improvement in the months to come. While that approach certainly can be helpful, I prefer to reflect more on the big picture of the previous year, while looking to let go of past disappointments in order to move forward and into another chapter.

Laura Fenemore’s blog post on Tinybuddha, “Create Solutions, Not Resolutions,” advocates that instead of cultivating resolutions, it is solutions that are practical for inner peace.

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Holiday Hangover? Tips to Get Back on Track

As soon as Halloween ends we are reminded that Christmas is creeping its way back into our lives. It always seems to arrive much too soon, doesn't it? The month of November quickly feels as if it's defined by December.

I'm not a huge fan of the holiday season. When I was 19, I worked in a grocery store. I'm pretty sure my relative disdain for the season started while working a cash register between aisles of Santa-shaped chocolates and overpriced eggnog. I tolerated the crowds of people who purchased produce and cookies and I smiled, my irritation level peaking each time I was asked if the store sold organic carrots.

The customer, after all, is always right.

But the dreadful repetition of Christmas music drove me to surrender my apron midway through December.

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Happy New Year 2013!

To all of our Psych Central readers, I wish you a very Happy New Year!

I hope 2013 is a good year for you, your family and your friends. I hope the universe makes some of your dreams come true this year, and that you're successful in overcoming some of your own challenges.

And may your year be full of the things that bring you happiness in your life -- whether it be family, success, a new job, relief from pain, or some combination of all of the above.

We here at Psych Central wish you a very prosperous one in whatever you do.

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How to Create Meaningful Resolutions as a Couple

As a couple, you might be interested in creating New Year’s resolutions to improve your relationship. But you might be stumped about where to start – especially since resolutions tend to get a bad rap.

The reason? We usually don’t follow our hearts or our values.

We asked three relationship experts for their suggestions on setting meaningful resolutions for 2013. Below you’ll find specific steps for creating goals that truly help you cultivate your connection and boost your relationship.

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5 Tips to Blow Up Your Old Expectations & Move Forward

A client shared his frustration over not achieving more in his life, all those things he thought he would have done by now. I suggested that his struggle with low self-esteem would be helped if he stopped comparing himself to others.

This man, like many I know, deals heroically every day with the special needs challenges in his family. He and his wife step up in a non-traditional, focused, determined manner with love and spirit that is hard for outsiders to imagine. He is the frog in the pot, so it is nearly impossible for him to see how exceptional he is.

His reaction to me was: "Are you asking me to lower my expectations?"

No, I said, I'm asking you to blow them up, destroy them, obliterate them to dust. I hate that term: 'lower expectations', (can you tell?) as if by thinking differently we are less ourselves instead of more.

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5 Tips to Help Make Your Resolutions Stick

I know what you're thinking: another cheesy, goody-two-shoes article on how I can keep all those goals I've set going into 2013. If you abhor such articles (like 10 ways to de-clutter your bathroom), then keep on reading. I'm like you -- normal.

1. Bribe yourself.

A so-called parenting expert that I read last week claimed that bribing your kid to get him to do something was an example of irresponsible and ineffective parenting. I suspect that the same man sits in his quiet and tidy little office cranking out advice like that while either his wife or nanny is home changing diapers and doling out time-outs. Let's face it, bribing feels like one of the most effective tools to get anyone -- your kid, your stubborn mother, your golden retriever, or yourself -- to do something.

My running coach used this brilliant method to train me to run 18 miles. Before our run, he hid Jolly Ranchers along our route, every two miles, so he'd say to me when I wanted to stop, "In another half-mile, you get a treat! Come, you can do it!" And like a rat spotting a half-eaten hotdog, I'd run to the candy.

You want to make sure you stick to your resolution? Bribe yourself along the road there: at the one-forth mark, one-half mark, and three-quarters mark.

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Therapists Spill: My New Year’s Resolution

The end of the year is a time for self-reflection, while the beginning brings a clean slate, hope and new-found motivation, said Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression.

That’s why so many people use this time to create resolutions. In our monthly series, "Therapists Spill," we wanted to know what goals clinicians are setting for their fresh starts.

For instance, Serani is setting both personal and professional goals -- with an emphasis on realistic resolutions.
I like to set realistic goals for myself each year. Some are personal, like exercising more and eating better. Others are professional, such as researching a new subject or presenting at a conference. Of course, I don't always achieve all these goals. But for me, I know that thinking about change leads me toward change. And that's a good way to start the year.

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12 New Year’s Resolutions to Boost Your Relationship

As one year ends and another begins, it’s a good time to reflect on what went well and what you’d like to improve. That’s where relationship resolutions come in.

Relationships rarely thrive without some effort from both partners. That’s why we asked three relationship experts to offer their tips on setting resolutions that truly boost our romantic bonds. Here are 12 resolutions to help your relationship flourish in 2013.

1. Put your relationship first.

Clinical psychologist Meredith Hansen, Psy.D, suggested partners “Make each other a priority.” For instance, check in with each other during the day, spend quality time together during the week or go on a date at least once a month, she said.

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