It’s the final ritual of the holiday season that started with Thanksgiving, and while many ignore it, many more make New Years’ resolutions an important component of their holidays.
Why? Look at the calendar. The very first day of a very new year seems like the perfect moment to reflect on the year just passed, and to take the first step toward improving yourself—as some weight-loss ads put it, New Year, New You!
But just like those weight-loss promises, a New Years’ resolution won’t work until you make it work. Joining a gym is a meaningless gesture if you start out going every day, then every other day, then every other week, then not at all. That’s the pattern the health clubs see—new members determined to lose weight and build muscle flood the mats in January, then taper off until, by summer, they’ve stopped going to the gym altogether.
Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution Against All Odds
The frustration of an unused gym membership, or that “one last cigarette,” or that copy of Sense and Sensibility that remains unopened on your bedside table may increase your anxiety, especially if you’re going through a post-holiday slump. It’s a good time to remind yourself that these promises you’ve made to yourself may not be achievable.
Instead of making big resolutions that call for sweeping character transformations, stay realistic. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”
By keeping things manageable and realistic, you have a better shot at keeping your resolutions throughout the year, and benefitting from your new, healthier behavior.
As tempting as it is, forget committing to the full-body Marine workout for three hours every day. Instead, promise yourself to hit the gym three or four times a week. If you’ve set a weight-loss goal and identified snacking as a live target, swap out the chocolates and pretzels for healthier options, like fruits you enjoy or roasted almonds—unsalted, please.
Tighten Your Focus
Bad habits build up and become ingrained over time. And that means that transitioning from unhealthy behaviors to healthy behaviors won’t take place overnight. Focus on changing one thing at a time.
Talk about New Years’ resolutions with your friends and family. Keep it light, and you’ll hear some truths between the laughter. If you’re stuck in your bad habit, others are, too—that’s where support groups come from. Joining one will help you share experiences with others in the same boat, making your particular struggle a lot less nerve-wracking and easier to bear.
Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy
We are humans, not androids. Slipups and backsliding are normal. If you missed your workout at the gym, turn that negative into a positive and, instead of beating yourself up, find another way to alert yourself when it’s time to head for the treadmills. You’ll have some lousy days and some better days, but as long as you stay the course, you’ll reach your goal.
When In Doubt, Ask A Pro
If meeting your goals has your nerves in a knot, you might need special help to deal with your special problem. If it’s a physical issue, a good physical therapist could make suggestions that sound small, but make a big difference. If anxiety and feeling intimidated are slowing you down, a good psychologist can help you adjust your goals and manage your emotions.
Bottom Line: For an anxiety-free 2018, keep your resolutions realistic.
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