The arrival of the new year is a great time to make a fresh start in how you address your physical, mental and emotional health. Many people make New Year’s resolutions to get more exercise, quit smoking, eat better, start a meditation practice, etc. Unfortunately, too often our initial enthusiasm quickly fades, and we abandon those health initiatives. Does that mean we simply shouldn’t make resolutions in the first place? No, not at all. As we tell people at our family counseling center, committing to improving your health and your life in general is a very good thing. The key is to approach those promises in a way that helps you keep them.
Six Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions
Even before you set your first goal for next year, resolve to read this list of tips for sticking with your resolutions!
- Be selective. Most of us have many areas of our lives where we could make improvements. However, changing behaviors takes significant effort. Choose too many objectives and you will likely struggle to have the time or energy to achieve any of them.
- Start slowly. If your goal is to exercise regularly, and ultimately you want to be working out five days each week, start by committing to one or two. Gradual changes in your routine are much more likely to become habits and then ongoing behaviors.
- Discuss your intentions and your progress. Letting a friend or family member know what you are attempting to do can both help you feel a sense of accountability and give you someone to talk to about your successes and setbacks.
- Be kind to yourself. Few people have ever made a New Year’s resolution and then stuck with it without fail. When you backslide a bit, know that you are not alone and also that there’s no reason you can’t pick up right where you left off on the resolution when you’re ready to do so.
- Keep a journal. Jotting some quick notes regularly about how things are going with your resolution can be very enlightening. For one thing, it can help you identify patterns that may be useful in making changes to your routine. For example, if you frequently indicate that you didn’t enjoy your Monday trip to the gym, perhaps Monday should be a rest day and you would enjoy the workout more on Tuesdays.
- Give yourself a pass for real-life interruptions. You get the flu and can’t work out for a week. Your work schedule gets hectic and you have to eat fast food on the run more than you’d like. While you need to hold yourself accountable to keep your resolutions, there will be times that life makes it essentially impossible. Don’t count those instances as “breaking” your resolution; think of them as “pausing” it!
Okay, Okay, But Can I Make it Fun?
These six tips will work for you. However, not all resolutions in the mix have to be entirely earnest. Sometimes a playful resolution mixed with the serious ones can help you stay mindful of all your resolutions. It can be fun. Here are a few: 1) Play a board game with your family once a month; 2) Send a birthday card to all your relatives; 3) Improve your handwriting; 4) Have a Super Saturday with each family member through the year in which each picks a fun activity to enjoy with you; or 5) Write down the best jokes you hear through the year on your smartphone to share at the end of the year. Remember laughing is good for your mental health. You get the idea.
Helping Make Steady Progress Toward Your Goals
New year’s resolutions can improve your mental and emotional health, but sometimes the insights of a skilled counselor are required to overcome mental health challenges. Please don’t hesitate to seek help. Contact us online or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for more information about our family counseling services. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.