Americans have health and personal finance on the mind, as we head into 2022, a new survey from Fidelity shows. About 74 percent of those who intend to make New Year’s resolutions plan to focus on personal health and fitness, while 68 percent are interested in personal finance goals.

Of those who made financial resolutions for 2021, 71 percent were able to stick to their goals, up from 58 percent in 2020. This is definitely a good sign going into 2022, and looks to be a bright spot for anyone planning to make a resolution this year.

Holiday Spending

Almost two-thirds of Americans claimed that 2021 was one of the worst years in American history, according to a YouGov survey. So it isn’t a great leap to say that many of these financial resolutions may relate to people seeking ways to recover their finances as the pandemic rages on — especially after holiday spending. 

Since Americans planned to spend an average of nearly $1,000 each over the course of the winter holidays, according to the National Retail Federation, their budgets will need some help to recover, which might be why so many are looking to improve their personal finances.

New Year’s Resolutions: Financial Fitness vs. Physical Fitness

Of course, finances aside, looking into the new year, there may be good news ahead for personal trainers: For most Americans, getting in shape continues to be a bigger priority than saving money — which reflects survey results from 2020.

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It is understandable that priorities may have shifted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, since health issues will have been on the minds of the public since early March 2020.

And though New Year’s resolutions relating to personal finance may have been on the rise since 2018, it isn’t entirely surprising that the trends would be shaken by an event as impactful as the pandemic.

But exercise isn’t the only health concern  of Americans.

With roughly 57 percent of adults having experienced some degree of COVID-related trauma, according to a survey by WebMD, many are interested in improving their mental health as we head into 2022.

In fact, 61 percent of Americans are planning to make mental health a priority with their resolutions, according to the Fidelity survey. In fact, one in three Americans are going so far as to call 2022 “the Year of Hope.”  

Mental health improvement can be difficult to achieve during the pandemic, but it’s not impossible. Seeking help and working on fixing day-to-day lifestyle issues can lead to improvements.

Making the Necessary Improvements

Because so many Americans have made the decision to focus on their mental and physical health, rather than prioritizing their finances, it is important to know exactly how to make those changes.

The first step is a simple one, even if it’s not the easiest. “Stop watching the news,” says Randy Withers, a licensed clinical mental health counselor and the managing editor of Blunt Therapy. “Those 24-hour news networks are terrible for your mental health. All they do is repeat the same stories about COVID over and over and over again.”

“While information is important, exposure to the same negative stories can lead to obsessive thoughts, ruminations, increased anxiety, and a depressed mood,” Withers adds. “Limit your news consumption to 30 minutes a day.”

Additionally, be aware that physical activity and mental health are not independent of each other.

Though working on your financial situation can help reduce stress, regular exercise can be even more beneficial, which could be why so many people are gravitating to physical health over improving their financial security.

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“A brisk 20-minute walk every day has been shown to reduce symptoms associated with depression,” says Withers. “While the winter months make it more difficult to go outside, it’s still important to engage in mild to moderate cardio activity as often as you can.”

Whether this means taking a walk around the neighborhood or getting in a quick run on a treadmill, make sure you’re receiving the exercise you need to help you remain in shape, when we’re all trapped indoors in the coming year.

Finally, Withers stresses the need to seek others to help you through these difficult times. “Don’t allow the pandemic to disconnect you from other people. Humans are social creatures. We are not meant to live in isolation. Connection to others is one of the best defenses against depression and anxiety.”

“If you are uncomfortable being in close physical proximity to family and friends, consider the benefits of hosting a Zoom meeting at least two times a month,” Withers adds. “Play online bingo, host a trivia night, or just chat with people you care about. Your mental health will thank you.”

Once these steps are accomplished, remember that just because you’re focusing on your health doesn’t mean you can’t also take care of your finances. Remember to continue keeping an eye on your budget and your emergency fund, so that you can be sure that you can remain financially secure in the new year.

The Bottom Line

The good news is that more Americans than ever are making an effort to make their lives better in the new year. Nearly 70 percent of Americans intend to make financial resolutions in the coming year, according to the Fidelity survey, which shows a renewed dedication to improving their personal financial status.

Whether you’re hoping to improve your finances, productivity, health, or relationships, New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to improve your life as we are all finally allowed to leave 2021 behind us. By staying committed to your goals and making active efforts to achieve them, you can end 2022 in a better state than the year before it.

Additional reporting by Lukas Shayo.