Are you looking to break a few bad habits this year? Ready to keep those end-of-the-year resolutions and lifestyle changes that will make you happier, healthier and more productive? Starting the New Year, a new season or even a new month with the resolve to improve is an age-old tradition. It can be a frustrating experience, however, if your list of commitments is longer than Santa’s naughty or nice list.
This time around, prepare a realistic set of goals by reflecting on the changes that will have the most impact for you and your family. There is no magic start date to make a lifestyle change by breaking a bad habit. You may want to take the first step when the relatives and other houseguests have gone back to their own homes, or you may want to wait until your children are back in school. Meanwhile, start thinking about what you want to change about yourself, and narrow the selection down to one behavior.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), establishing small, sensible goals throughout the year increases your chances of reaching objectives to break bad habits or keep a healthy resolution. The following APA tips may help you prepare a list of resolutions — and, most importantly, keep them:
Start small. If you want to start exercising more, aim for three or four days a week, not every day. Looking to eat healthier? Start by replacing that late-night ice cream treat with yogurt or frozen strawberries.
Change one behavior at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed and reassess everything in your life at one time. One step at a time does work.
Talk about it. Share your experiences with family and friends. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with will make your journey to a healthier lifestyle easier and less daunting.
Don’t beat yourself up. No one is perfect. Taking two steps backward today does not mean you can’t move forward tomorrow. Don’t say “never mind” when you eat a cookie or two or decide to sleep in instead of going to the gym.
Ask for support. Accepting help from those who care about you strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies as to how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.
For additional information on achieving and maintaining lifestyle goals, visit the American Psychological Association Web site at www.apa.org/helpcenter.
Most Popular Resolutions
- Losing weight
- Quitting tobacco use
- Volunteering to help the community
- Attaining a promotion or new job
- Saving money
- Exercising more
- Living with less stress
- Managing finances efficiently
- Traveling more
- Eating healthy
- Drinking less alcohol
- Protecting the environment