We make them every year, without fail. This year, let’s make them stick.
Many people jump at the chance to make their life better at the start of the New Year. Setting goals like losing weight or quitting smoking are among the most common — but they’re also some of the most difficult. Trying to make changes regarding mental health can get even more dicey, because part of reaching goals is staying accountable, and squaring off with depression, anxiety, or PTSD can feel impossible.
Instead of making resolutions, the trick is to simply create new habits by starting small. As an example, instead of resolving to quit smoking on January 2, you can decide to nix your first-morning cigarette for a certain number of days. Rather than chucking out all the snacks and sweets in your kitchen, you can substitute your morning donut or evening plate of cookies with some fruit.
In matters of managing stress — or finding a way to face any number of mental hurdles, or the resolve to find a professional source or support forum to join, simply take a few minute every morning after you wake up, to meditate. If you don’t know how to meditate, that’s okay — just lay, or sit, in moments of quiet and count in sets of three as you inhale, and exhale. Think about what you want to accomplish that day. Maybe you are going to look for 3 places to call to see what services they offer. Maybe you need to start out smaller than that, and browse online support forums. Maybe today is the day you tell your spouse or family member that you need help.
Other tips on how to make those resolutions become habits:
- Write it down, make it known: whether post-it notes of affirmations where you’d be likely to see them, a daily reminder on your phone, or to a trusted group on social media, writing things down for yourself or to and with others, means you’ve got tangible reminders, and people in your corner who can help keep you on track.
- Reward small achievements: set up a reward system for increments of weight loss, or each day you lessen the amount of cigarettes, or go completely smokeless. This can include video games or online purchases you’ve had your eye on, or anything your heart and mind desire.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re human. We are fallible and imperfect. Even a long stretch of good habits will hit roadblocks here and there. The good news is that these same tactics will help you get right back into the saddle.