Happy New Year! As we welcome in 2018 in January, many contemplate what habits they want to cultivate, change or remove in the coming year. The most common “resolutions” are losing weight and exercising, improving relationships, getting rid of clutter, reducing stress, spending less money, stopping smoking or drinking, and finding a more fulfilling career. Unfortunately, while most set out with great intentions and maybe even a plan, most resolutions don’t result in long lasting change. So, what stops us from making these positive changes stick? Five common reasons that resolutions don’t result in lasting change are unrealistic goals, lack of support, lack of true desire, not enough resources and vague planning. Let’s look at each of these factors:
The holiday season is upon us and although it is a time of joy and excitement, it can also be a time of stress and overwhelm. Whether it’s due to the holidays, year-end deadlines or finals in school, it is important to put self-care on the list of “gifts” you give yourself. Self-care is not selfish or indulgent. Self-care is taking care of your body, mind and spirit so that you can live a full life and have energy to give to others at work and at home. The good news is even during this busy time of year, there are many ways we can take care of ourselves without adding to an already long to-do list. Try these 12 free gifts you can give yourself for a more enjoyable and less stressful season.
The holidays are rapidly approaching and can be a time of joy and a chance to reconnect with family and friends. But for many it can also be a time of stress due to strained relationships, unhappy memories of the past, too much to do and not enough time to rest. In addition, there can also the feelings of disappointment or failure stemming from the expectation that our holidays should be “perfect” like those seen in movies, commercials and social media. Unfortunately, many families and friends are also experiencing strained relationships over the increasing polarization of views in the country today. The good news is there are several tools we can use to manage the holidays and difficult relationships this year.
Awareness is first! Before the holidays begin, take time to think about what you would like to be different this year. Before we can plan, we need to become aware of what our goal is, so we can set up a way to work toward it. Be as specific as possible and list what you would ideally like from your relationships. The list can also include what you do not want to happen. As you make these lists, tune into how your mind and body are reacting. If thinking about visiting your in-laws makes your neck stiffen or if going to see your Aunt Jane makes you feel excited, write that down as well. Noticing cues can help us create a plan that will increase our enjoyment of the season.
Become curious about your reactions. Now that you have made your list, become curious about what the positives and negatives are in the relationships you have examined. Asking yourself questions like “what exactly causes my neck to stiffen when think of visiting my in-laws?” can help with planning how to do something different. Tune into your feelings and notice what arises. Maybe you feel judged or criticized or maybe just disappointed because you have different expectations than those you are with at the time. Do certain people trigger negative reactions? Noticing will help you understand your unmet needs and negative feelings.
Examine your list and begin to plan. By examining the lists, we can begin to challenge our assumptions. This will give us information about just how important things are and if we are doing them because we feel we “should” or because we want to do them. It can also help us to see what we value and how we can use our values to help us navigate tricky situations. If we feel physically ill when we visit certain people or filled with dread before going, is it necessary that we go. What would happen if we did not? If we feel we must go, is there a way we could do it differently? For example, is instead of going to a three-hour dinner at Aunt Jane’s while trying to manage your 2-year-old or getting drawn into a political debate, maybe we could stop in before dinner for a drink or go by for dessert. Good boundaries are essential for keeping relationships positive.
September is National Recovery Month. I am pleased to share an article written by Michelle Peterson who believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.
Experts agree that people in addiction recovery require three things: social connection, motivation to keep on keeping on the path of sobriety, and confidence that they know how to cope with their struggles. Avoiding the places and people associated with your past substance abuse is difficult, but it’s crucial in preventing a relapse. Of course, feeling lonely, especially when you’re fresh in your sobriety, can also make it hard to avoid relapse. That’s why forming new friendships is vital to your sobriety success. Additionally, healthy friendships improve your physical and mental health. Luckily, there are ways to help you find friendships that will promote and support sobriety, which can also help you find motivation and confidence.
It’s that time of year again – the backpacks are packed with sharp pencils and fresh notebooks and families are preparing for the start of a new school year. While this can be an exciting time, it can also cause anxiety for some children and parents. In addition, it is a return to a stricter schedule for many families and the transition can be hard. The peaceful August evenings are now replaced with homework, back-to-school nights and other school related events. A slower pace in the morning now becomes a rush to get out the door for many. Starting the school year off in a positive way can be achieved by creating a plan that will work for your family.