Set New Year’s Intentions Rather Than Resolutions

Entering a new year is often filled with lofty goals as we follow the age-old tradition of setting New Year’s Resolutions. While it’s a good idea to embrace ways to be healthier, our mental health can suffer if we aren’t realistic.

That’s why Desert Care Network’s Dr. Anita Lara Chatigny, Ph.D., recommends developing New Year’s ‘intensions’ versus resolutions for long-term success and health benefits.  chatigny anita

“When we create a situation where we develop a pass/fail approach to making positive changes in our lives, we’re challenging ourselves with pie-in-the-sky goals that set us up for defeat,” said Dr. Chatigny. “Instead, wake up every day with the intention to exercise more, or eat healthier, or spend less money. When you’re looking at an ‘all or nothing’ experience, it is more likely you’ll give up. For example, if your resolution is to lose 20 pounds, but you find yourself eating a pound of See’s Candy that was left over from the holidays – you’ll likely feel your goal was dashed and stop working towards achieving it.”

Dr. Chatigny adds that it is better to choose one intention to focus on instead of 20.

“We also must balance what we need to do with a real understanding -- and gratitude – for the things we’ve done right in our lives,” said Dr. Chatigny. “A lot of times people lose sight of what they have accomplished, which can lead to that ‘glass looking half empty’ adage.”

Dr. Chatigny is one of the featured speakers at Desert Care Network’s upcoming Ringing in the New Year Health Fair on January 24, 2023, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Desert Regional Medical Center. In addition to speaking about how to set intentions, she will also cover psychological resilience.

“Our country has gone through a time of collective defeat, and when things feel out of control and we are concerned about health and environmental concerns like flus, RSV and the potential for another pandemic, we suffer the loss of resilience,” said Dr. Chatigny.

We must find internal mechanisms to rebuild resilience, she said, such as creating a different perspective.

“Our thinking and interpretation plays a powerful role in how our bodies and minds respond to challenge and defeat,” added Dr. Chatigny. “Instead of saying to yourself, ‘this is the worst possible thing that can happen,’ try, ‘tomorrow is a new day.’ It’s like if we have Mount Everest to climb but put on blinders so we can’t see the top and do it one step at a time, that’s more manageable and helps us gain confidence while minimizing catastrophic thinking.”

Without resilience, depression and hopelessness may result. So, it’s important to work on strengthening resilience. Hobbies and outlets for discovery and creativity can help bring back that positive outlook. Exercise can, too, because it carries oxygen to the brain and adds to our overall wellbeing.

Dr. Chatigny has been with Desert Regional since 1978, and on staff since receiving her Ph.D. in 1986. She is a medical psychologist, balancing the traditional role of a therapist and counselor with that of an educator who also manages medical symptoms to help with better outcomes.

To register for the Ringing in the New Year Health Fair on January 24, 2023, and learn more, go to

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