Do you want to lose weight? Check. Do you want to start exercising? Check. Do you want to quit smoking? Check.
It's difficult to be effective when your list of New Year's Resolutions is as big as your holiday shopping list. When you combine the post-holiday low with the inability to keep your resolutions by February, March, or even late January, you may experience an increase in worry.
It's vital to remember that the New Year isn't supposed to be a springboard for drastic personality changes. It's a time for people to reflect on their actions during the previous year and make resolutions to change their lifestyles for the better.
"Setting incremental, manageable objectives throughout the year, rather than a single, overwhelming goal on January 1," advises psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. "Remember, it's not the size of the change that matters; it's the act of recognizing the need for a lifestyle change and taking small steps toward it."
Making realistic resolutions increases your chances of sticking to them throughout the year and implementing healthy habits into your daily routine. When considering a New Year's resolution, the American Psychological Association gives the following advice:
Start small. Make resolutions that you believe you will be able to keep. If you want to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days at the gym per week rather than seven. Replace dessert with something else you enjoy, such as fruit or yogurt, if you want to eat healthily.
One habit at a time can be changed. Unhealthy habits are formed over time. As a result, substituting good behaviors with unhealthy ones takes time. Do not become overwhelmed and believe that you must reevaluate every aspect of your life. Rather, concentrate on altering one issue at a time.
It's something to talk about. Tell your relatives and friends about your adventures. Consider joining a support group to help you achieve your goals, such as a gym training class or a group of employees who are trying to quit smoking. Having someone to talk to about your problems and victories makes the transition to a healthier lifestyle much easier and less daunting.
Don't be too hard on yourself. Perfection is impossible to achieve. It's important to remember that little setbacks are quite natural and acceptable when pursuing your objectives. Don't give up because you ate a brownie and went off your diet, or because you were too busy to get to the gym for a week. Everyone has highs and lows; resolve to correct your errors and get back on track.
Ask for support. Accepting aid from those who care about you and will listen enhances your resilience and ability to cope with the stress that your resolution has produced. Consider getting expert help if you're feeling overwhelmed or unable to fulfill your goals on your own. Psychologists have specialized training in understanding the mind-body link. They can help you adapt your goals so that they are more achievable, as well as change unhealthy behaviors and deal with emotional concerns.
We wish you a happy and healthy new year!