Mental Health Resolutions and How to Keep Them

New year, new you? The beginning of a new year often creates the notion that there’s no better time to make a change. But as we come off of the highs and lows (excitement or stress) from the holiday season, we want to emphasize that the new year isn’t meant to be a facilitator for massive character changes, but rather work towards making small positive changes. Small changes can make a big difference and can be easier to stick to.

If you have a resolution you are working towards this year, here are a few things to consider as you start your journey.

  1. Resolution to goal: change the terminology
    The first step is changing the way we perceive New Year’s resolutions. Goals are often associated with the realization that they take time, effort and energy to achieve. In comparison, resolutions are decisions or intentions. In order to achieve your goal, you need to understand that making a change requires work to make it more than a wish.

  2. Choosing a goal
    Like we said above, this isn’t the time for a complete overhaul of your life. Have you attempted resolutions before only to give up before the month is over? Select one or two goals that you can really commit to. Selecting too many too fast could be what’s causing you not to succeed.

  3. Create an action plan
    Once you’ve selected a goal, simply starting can be overwhelming. Try starting by breaking your goal down into smaller more manageable steps. For example, if your goal is to visit the gym more frequently or be more active, set an easily achievable target to start. Maybe you hit the gym twice per week. Once you have managed to meet and keep that goal for a few weeks, then increase the frequency.

  4. Encourage, don’t discourage
    It can be easy to feel discouraged if you are not achieving your goal or seeing results as quickly as you’d hoped. Remember to stay positive and look for small signs of improvement and celebrate them. Sticking to your action plan and moving to the next level is a big milestone to celebrate. Or maybe you feel happier in general from introducing physical activity into your routine. Whatever your goal, don’t dwell on mistakes if you slip into old habits. Instead, be solution oriented and ask yourself what led to the slip-up and come up with a solution to prevent it from happening again.

  5. Talk about it
    Having a goal and working to achieve it is exciting, so share your goal with family and friends to build a support system. Having people to share your successes and struggles with will not only give you an outlet to share how you’re feeling but they may have helpful advice to help you reach your goal as well.

  6. Celebrate your successes
    It’s always nice to receive a reward when you have hit a milestone. When creating your action plan for your goal, try and schedule small rewards that will help you celebrate your achievements. By denying yourself you can often make the journey seem negative. Small rewards can help your willpower stay intact.

  7. Seek support
    Some changes that entail facing the unknown can be difficult. Remember that Calgary Counselling Centre is always here to help.

  8. Don’t give up
    Slip-ups and setbacks can happen. So it’s important to prepare yourself for this during your journey. Don’t use these instances as an excuse to give-up. Try and focus on the things you have achieved and the progress you have made this far to motivate yourself to keep going.

If you stray from your goal that’s okay. Start again from where you left off and track your progress from there. You are already half way there, because you recognized the lifestyle change that was important to you and took the first steps.

Nick Heer