Five, four, three, two, one. Happy New Year. Auld Lang Syne, and welcome to 2013.


As part of with every new start, people make goals, things they like to see happen or improve for the new time ahead. When it comes to the new year, these goals are widely known as resolutions. However, according to one of University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology’s latest studies, only around 8 percent actually complete their resolution. This year, take some tips from local professionals on how to keep started and perhaps maintain your resolution; resolutions were chosen from USA.gov’s New Year’s popular resolutions list.


Managing stress

The key to managing stress is to socialize.


Connect with others, keep loved ones near or enroll in a class, Lisa Tindal, Mental Health America of Aiken County executive director, listed off.


“Don’t isolate yourself,” she said.


A number of events can cause stress – the holidays, family or job loss, the economy.


To minimize stress, plan ahead, stay healthy and don’t take on too much at one time. Also, Tindal said people have reached out spiritually.


“As a working mother who juggles a demanding job, activities with children, etc., I relieve stress by rising early to have at least 30 minutes to myself, read Bible devotional, walk at least three times a week, listening to favorite music via Pandora and rely on to-do lists not just as reminders but because I like the sense of accomplishment of a completed item on my list,” she said.


To get started on this resolution, Tindal suggests the “How Stressed Are You?” quiz under the “Our Programs,” then “Education and Advocacy” tab at www.mha-aiken.org/home.html.


Lose weight/get fit

Losing weight and getting fit helps manage stress but also helps people feel better about themselves.


Achieve Fitness’ motto is “Results start when you do,” and that is something general manager Danny Amodio supports.


To get started with this resolution, he recommends getting in the gym.


“Commit to something,” he said. “Eat less and move more.”


The gym offers group classes, tanning, child care, personal training and meal planning assistance.


Teresa Bates, a weight loss counselor from PHC Weight Loss & Wellness Centers, also recommends exercising with friends, buying new workout clothes and keeping track of your progress.


Eat healthy food

Exercising helps lose weight but so does eating healthier.


Dr. Brian Parr, USC Aiken associate professor of exercise and sports science, focuses his classes and Aiken Standard weekly column on eating and living healthier.


This, according to him, starts in the produce aisle.


“The goal is to eat five fruit and vegetables a day,” Parr said. “It’s not enough but will help them get on right track.”


Parr also suggests keep realistic during dieting, staying away from processed food and gradually replacing junk food with healthy food.


Bates suggests being cautious of eating triggers – TV being a big one, looking to other pleasures besides eating and walking everywhere. Also, never say “diet.” Going on a diet means going off one.


“Failure is necessary for learning,” she said. “Also, love yourself all the time.”


While eating healthier does maintain body weight, it also influences mood and prevents disease, Parr said.


Drink less alcohol/quit smoking

Getting in shape helps our body image. Eating right helps our mood.


Drinking less and quitting smoking primarily will help prevent diseases.


The Aiken Center is one place that provides services on how to get started with this resolution.


To drink less, write down why you want to do so. Then set a limit – discuss this with your doctor, especially if you have a condition – keep track of your drinking and drink slowly. When you feel strong enough, take a break from the spirits and start staying “no” more, as the College Drinking Prevention website through the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests.


Quitting smoking can be done through medication like the nicotine skin patch or gum. But first, get rid of all tobacco products and tell people like friends and a doctor about stopping. Cravings can be kept down by using items like celery, gum or raisins, lighting a candle and getting away from where the craving started. If the craving wins one time, don’t worry, learn from it and move on, smokefree.gov suggests.


Get a better job

You might be one who is content with your body and does not need to resolve to eat better or stop a vice. However, you might not be content with your job.


Be aware though that finding a job might not be the easiest task to do right now, at least not without the right mindset and methods.


So first and most importantly, if you have a good, no matter what, stay there until you have something else lined up.


“In a tight job market, a job is better than no job,” said Jennifer Hart, community director of Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia & CSRA.


However, nothing is impossible. Career development facilitators like those at Aiken’s Goodwill Job Connection can help job seekers figure out long-term goals, so things like additional training and education can be factored in, if necessary. Always seek to improve yourself, dress for success and work with career counselors to develop career plans. Also, when job hunting, get out of the house, since the home is full of potential distractions.


For those unemployed, “treat your job search like a full-time job. … You never know who you will run into during the course of the day who might be the key to your next job,” Hart said.


Manage debt/save money

Focusing on needs over wants and starting up a savings plan can help anyone better handle his or her finances, said Gabi Dukes, Security Federal Bank senior vice president of financial counseling.


But something incidences, like taking out loans for homes and cars, can’t be avoided, and unfortunately, the debts that drop with them can’t be either.


“Having a relationship (with a lender or financial counselor) is the first thing and is very important,” Dukes said. “Then we usually establish a budget, a road-map to establish goals.”


Monthly obligations are weighted into those budgets. The counselor helps the client figure out what is and is not financially important.


Dukes thinks keeping at least $1,000 back for emergencies is a good safety net. Once you take from your savings, make to replenish it as soon as you can.


Take a trip

“All travel experiences have one common denominator. No matter where you go or how you choose to get there, you always return home with an expanded perspective of the world,” said Kathy Wilson, Aiken’s Cachet Cruise and Travel owner.


Wilson suggests go somewhere different this year, but be smart about it.


Select the time, establish a budget, plan ahead and seek professional advice, like Wilson’s. A travel agent can help you come up with a plan and research, get you access to privileged information and can help in emergencies.


“Cruise enthusiasts from the Aiken area are fortunate to be within driving distance of several major cruise ports. Charleston, Jacksonville, Port Canaveral, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami are easily accessible,” Wilson said. “Air service is available from the regional airports in Augusta and Columbia and the international airports in Atlanta and Charlotte.”


Get a better education

Aiken’s school system starts with schools like Aiken Elementary and Millbrook Elementary and climbs up to Aiken Technical College and USC Aiken.


Erica Doyle, owner of Healing Touch Massage and Spa Center, went to Aiken Technical College and then pursued an different form of education through the Jobs for Life program.


“(Getting an education) has provided me with my independence,” she said. “I don’t have to work for anyone else.”


The Jobs for Life program is a Christ Central Ministries effort to help people get on the track of pursing successful careers.


“You secure your future, when you further your education,” Doyle said.


Doyle brought up the point it is possible to find a job with a high school diploma but to still “strive every day to be the best you can be.”


She recommends people look into the program.


Volunteer to help others

Aiken offers ways for people to get involved and give back to their community. Going through United Way and its various programs is just one of those ways.


The programs range so vastly from tutoring to helping at homeless shelters that people are bound to find their fit.


Making time tends to be the trickiest part, though.


“We are all busy and struggle with balancing a full plate, but some of these volunteer opportunities such as delivering meals to homebound seniors could even be done on your lunch break,” said Candis Moyer, director of resource development.


Reduce, reuse, recycle

Volunteering helps others, while recycling helps the greater atmosphere.


Aiken city residents are able to get free recycling rolling carts by just contacting Public Services, according to department director Tim Coakley.


Pick-up is included in monthly trash pick-up fee.


Items that will be picked up include aluminum and steel cans, paper products like phone books and newspaper, glass bottles and jars and plastics #1 and #2 like milk jugs and beverage containers. For a more complete list and more information, visit www.cityofaikensc.gov/index.php/government/departments/public-services-department.


County residents can contact the County Public Works or go the County website to see where they can drop off their recyclables.