New Year's Resolutions - Set achievable goals The knowledge and skills to help you navigate your path to psychological wellness Rena Tennant Psychotherapy mental healthmental hygienepsychological wellness Jan 04 2020 Many cultures follow the tradition of making New Year's resolutions. The practice is believed to have begun with the Babylonians some four thousand years ago. They made promises (like paying off debts) in order to earn favour from the gods. We still make promises for "better behaviour" in the new year. "I promise to lose weight, quite smoking, exercise more..." the list we create for ourselves can seem daunting. In the slump that seems to begin in January after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, being unable to keep up with our resolutions into February can increase anxiety and perhaps lead ruminating on our "failures" or to some feelings of hopelessness into the later winter months. It is important to remember that unhealthy behaviours take time to become a part of our lives, so it stands to reason it will take time to make changes toward healthier behaviours. January first should not be viewed as the catalyst to making sweeping character and behavioural changes. Change takes time and requires sustained commitment. When making resolutions be sure you are setting achievable goals. Start small. A favourite resolution for many people is to lose weight. A more achievable goal may be to increase exercise to three days per week. The goal of increasing exercise is specific and measurable. Change one behaviour at a time. We can become overwhelmed when trying to initiate too many changes at once and this can lead to increased feelings of frustration and ultimately to failure of one or more goals. Increasing exercise is one step in losing weight. Tell someone. Research has shown that if we tell others of our intentions we are more likely to follow through. Having someone to provide us with encouragement and support can go a long way in sustaining our motivation to make changes. You're not perfect (sorry). Perfectionism is not attainable. If you are only able to fit in two exercise days in one week don't beat yourself up over it. Life happens. The ability to continue in the face of setbacks is an essential life skill in maintaining good mental health. It's okay to ask for help. Sometimes we need others to pitch in and lend a hand. Ask a friend to join you for walks or give you a call to see if you have exercised today. New Year's can be a time for inner reflection and for increasing awareness of our behaviours. Do not aim for a grand overhaul of who you are. Take stock and ascertain what you can start working on now. Remember, success has already been set in motion by recognizing that a lifestyle change needs to occur. Find out more about the mental health support and psychotherapy treatments offered at Renew Neurotherapy Other posts in the series Brush up! On Your Mental Hygiene: Previous: For it is in the giving that we receive Next: Don't overthink it!