Posted January 1, 2016
by Stephanie Dodaro
We have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. After the excesses of the holiday season, many of us feel compelled to eat healthier, exercise, and seek out various other ways to improve our lives. The act of making resolutions helps you feel in immediate control of your destiny, giving you confidence and energy. However, many people find it notoriously difficult to stick with resolutions, especially those suffering from depression. There are steps we can all take to change the way we approach resolutions, and make the process of self-improvement realistic and sustainable.
First, take stock of how you’re feeling. If you’re experiencing a depressive episode, it can be difficult to plan resolutions and follow through on them. One of depression’s most debilitating traits is constant negative self-talk, which can be incredibly discouraging and warp your self-perception. Other common symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety further worsen your mood, leaving you pessimistic, defensive, and overly sensitive. Any perceived failure, such as slipping up on a resolution, can make your self-reproach spiral out of control.
If you’ve had symptoms of depression for more than two weeks, be sure to visit your health care provider for an assessment. It can take a good deal of time and effort to find the right treatments, so allow yourself to make it a priority.
When you’re ready to make resolutions, it can be helpful to first take stock of the past year.
By closely examining your past year, you’ll have a better sense of what resolutions might be most helpful.
It’s also helpful to connect resolutions to the bigger picture. For example, you’ll be more motivated to stick with a savings plan if it’s connected to the greater goal of helping you retire by a certain age.
As you’re creating your plan, keep these suggestions in mind:
Even if you’re being treated for depression and major symptoms are eased, negative thought patterns can persist. Practice recognizing when your thoughts seem overly pessimistic and take a step back. If they seem to be impeding your progress, contact your health care provider to adjust your treatment plan.
Whether you feel far from achieving your goals or are living your dreams, realistic resolutions can help you get or stay on track, in the new year and beyond.