Do New Years Resolutions Make You Anxious? 7 Tips to Help
It’s that time of year - New Year’s - when we look back over the past year, make a list of what we didn’t accomplish and make a vow to change those things this year. Let’s face it - most of the time New Year’s Resolutions don’t work. If they did, no one would smoke, everyone would be thin and exercise every day, we would all only eat healthy food, we’d be better parents, better people. But year after year, the majority of New Year’s resolutions go by the wayside within a few weeks. During those first few weeks, though, our anxiety levels rise - after all a resolution is a lot of pressure and not following through gives us one more failure with which to view ourselves.
But resolutions don’t need to be major changes. Although it is good to look forward to the future with optimism and hope, we don’t have to succumb to the pressure of changing overnight or letting go of every negative thought. We don’t have to feel like failures when we don’t follow through. The following tips may help you to find ways to make changes in the upcoming year:
Make mini-resolutions. Small changes have a way of adding up and creating positive energy in our life. Think about the concept behind cognitive behavioral therapy. You make one small step toward overcoming your anxiety at a time. Once you mastered that step, you work toward the next step. Mini resolutions are based on the same concept. Instead of saying, “I am going to lose 25 pounds this year,” focus on making healthy choices. For example, you might switch one unhealthy snack a day for a healthier choice. Once you are comfortable with that, you can decide to stay away from fast-food restaurants. These goals are much more achievable than the overall goal of losing 25 pounds. Each time you follow through on your mini-resolution you feel good and can focus on the achievement.
Don’t go it alone. Help is all around you, you just need to reach out and ask. If you don’t yet have a diagnosis for anxiety, make an appointment with your doctor to find out if this is what is causing you problems and talk about what treatment options are available. If you do have a diagnosis, but aren’t feeling better, talk with your doctor about what else you can do to help manage symptoms. Talk with a therapist, look for support groups, surround yourself with people who are supportive and encouraging. You may have anxiety but that doesn’t mean you have to feel alone and isolated. Reach out and ask for help.
Look at your overall treatment plan and make changes where needed. Too often, we skip parts of our treatment plan and rely on anti-anxiety medications to help relieve symptoms. But an overall treatment plan often includes therapy and lifestyle changes. If you are entering this New Year with overwhelming feelings of anxiety, it may be time to review your complete treatment plan and work with a team of professionals to create an overall plan that focuses not just on reducing anxiety symptoms but creating a healthier lifestyle.
Celebrate all your accomplishments - no matter how small. Sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning is an accomplishment and you need to celebrate this small victory. If your social anxiety has you looking down at your feet to avoid eye contact and conversation with anyone and today you said “hello” to even one person, congratulate yourself on this accomplishment. If you remembered to do deep breathing exercises or spent 10 minutes on physical activity, pat yourself on the back. Every accomplishment is worth celebrating.
Make your goals specific and realistic. The more specific and realistic your goal, the better chance you have of achieving it. Break your goal down into the steps needed to make it happen and focus on each step instead of looking at the overall goal. You may want to write your goal down, listing each step. As you complete a step, cross it out and work toward the second step. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to complete each step, simply work on it until you have accomplished it and then move on.
Make positive lifestyle changes. Adding 10 or 15 minutes of exercise to your day, getting enough sleep and eating right all help you to manage anxiety. If you aren’t sure what types of exercise you should be doing because of health issues, talk with your doctor and set up an exercise regime that you can complete each day. Anxiety issues worsen with lack of sleep or food, so making sure to take care of yourself physically is also taking care of yourself emotionally. (But remember to take one step at a time.)
Learn about anxiety. Whether you have social anxiety, PTSD or panic attacks, the more you understand the better able you can cope with and manage your symptoms. Take time to read about anxiety disorders and how other people have learned to cope. Reading about other’s experiences can not only give you ideas on how you can cope but can also help motivate you to make positive changes in your life.