CLEVELAND — Entering 2021, many people are setting New Year’s resolutions.

Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said while typically people set a lot of goals surrounding physical health, in 2021, people are looking to improve their mental health.

“2020 has really taught us a lot about our mental health, and so in previous years, people have put weight loss at the top of the list, and that has shifted a bit this year,” Albers said. “People are really focusing on the importance of their mental health and taking care of their emotional wellbeing. So this year, consider putting mental health on your resolution list, learn some stress management techniques, relaxation, reach out to a mental health counselor. Do whatever you can this year to really take care of yourself, be kind and compassionate and put your mental health on the top of that list.”

Dr. Albers said resolutions themselves can be stressful, so she suggests a different approach.

“Instead of setting a resolution this year, think about setting an intention now a resolution is about change in intention is about being in the present moment how you show up,” she said. “One way you can do this is pick a theme word for the year, and that year should reflect over the next 12 months, who you want to grow or what you want to achieve. It can be a word like flourish, simplify, relax anything that is going to help to keep you focused and aimed in a positive direction.”

She said there are psychological strategies to use to make sure the goals are successful this year like focusing on the process rather than the outcome.

“Every year, people do a lot of outcome goals; they want to lose 10 pounds. That is a future or distinct goal. It's that delay of gratification that it's hard to hold on to,” she said. “Instead, focus on a process goal that is making a list of something you can do every single day that's going to lead to that outcome goal and you have so much more control over that. So for example, you can write down. Take a walk every day, or eat more fruits and vegetables, and that is something you can cross off the list today, that makes you feel really good and brings you closer to that outcome goal.”

Dr. Albers said don’t focus on things seen as “wrong” or that need to be fixed.

“Instead, focus on something that you already do well, and make some calls about doing just a little bit better,” Albers said. “So, for example, if you go for a walk every day, aim to go a little bit further. These kinds of goals are going to help to increase your success in getting it done.”

Dr. Albers said it’s really important to write down goals and intentions. Psychological studies show people are twice as likely to fulfill them if it’s put on paper.