January is Mental Wellness month! Yet, after the holidays people often feel exhausted and far from mentally well. To make matters worse, many of us are already feeling the pressure to keep our New Year’s Resolutions. Soon, most Americans will be white knuckling their way through the grocery’s cookie isle and driving past the gym with our heads hung in shame. By the time Valentine’s Day arrives, our “New Year, New Me” is buried under a pile of empty chocolate wrappers and unopened mail. Year after year, January starts with the best of intentions that often go bust before we begin. So how can we stop the Resolution merry-go-round while also boosting our mental wellness? We need to change the way we think about personal changes. Keeping your New Year’s Resolutions Simple, Small, & Steady in 2023 will put you one step closer to making your 2024 goals.
Most of us make our resolutions with the goal of boosting our overall quality of life. We seek to make changes that will improve our health and increase our life span. We all know there are things we could change about our habits that would make our lives better. Research has shown this to be true. Modifiable Risk Factors are habits that we can change to improve our lives and even prevent disease. For example, getting plenty of rest and eating a healthy diet are crucial for all aspects of both physical and mental wellness. Some of the most common Modifiable Risk Factors include Exercise, Diet, Sleep, & Tobacco/Alcohol Usage. Simple, Small, & Steady changes to Modifiable Risk Factors often bring about noticeable improvement to mental wellness is just a few weeks’ time. And who doesn’t want to see positive results at the end of each month?!
Keep it Simple- When we think about our resolutions, we envision a better version of ourselves. We long for a way to put our best foot forward in the coming year. To bring about these changes, we create multiple new routines for ourselves that are difficult to incorporate into our already busy lives. We purchase new running shoes, a day planner, and bathroom scale in the hopes to lose weight and be more productive, yet we are often unable to add these new habits successfully. Being unable to juggle our “new selves” leaves us feeling defeated and we quickly give up. If we looked to make one simple change, we are more likely to stay the course. For example, if you want to start working out, it is not necessary wake up at 5am to run and meditate daily. Allot 30 minutes each day for a jog or brisk walk while listening to a meditation podcast. Gradually adding one or two small changes can make them more impactful and our resolutions easier to keep.
Keep it Small- Our resolutions are often drastic changes that involve using skills that do not come easy to us. We struggle with keeping our resolutions due to the sheer size of the tasks that we take on. Keep resolutions small and manageable. For example, instead of changing your entire diet at the start of anew year, make small incremental adjustments. Resolve to dine out less frequently, drink more water, or reduce your caffeine intake. There is no rule that says resolutions must be an “all or nothing” proposition. We are more likely to stick to small changes implemented over time.
Keep it Steady-Our Resolutions don’t have to be a source of anxiety. When starting a new habit, just like a new skill, we learn by doing. More importantly, we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. When learning to walk, we stumbled. When learning to ride a bike, we fell. Learning a new behavior is the same. We often put so much pressure on ourselves to keep our resolutions perfectly, that one small misstep causes many of us to give up on the idea altogether. Instead, try giving yourself a little grace. When a child takes their first steps, we don’t tell them to quit when they fall. We praise them for the attempt and encourage them to try again. We should use this same positive attitude of praise with ourselves. For example, did you only make it to the gym 3 times this week, when your resolution was to go 4 times? Don’t beat yourself up for failing. Celebrate those three visits and keep going!
Addressing Modifiable Risk Factors as a part of your New Year’s Resolution can be a valuable tool in creating a long and prosperous life. As you look to improve your mental wellness in 2023, you are not alone. We can help! Thousands of patients come to our clinic each year to help keep their resolutions and find support on their journey.
If you have questions or would like to know more about our services, please contact us at Outreach@NB-CR.com or call us at 330-493-1118.
About the author: Molly Little is the Community Outreach Director for Neuro-Behavioral Research & the Ohio Center for Hope. Molly is an advocate for minority communities who originates from Cincinnati, Ohio. For more on this article, contact Molly at MLittle@nb-cr.com