More Quality Time
Better Out Look
Change Negative Habits
You Bet!by The American Psychological Association
It can be daunting when you want to make a positive change. The frustration of an unused gym membership or other reminders of past failed commitments can make the later winter months feel hopeless.
Promises to make lifestyle changes can be empowering if done right. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, Ph.D. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is essential and working toward it, one step at a time.
By making changing realistic, adds to the chance that you will keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behavior into your everyday life. APA offers these tips when thinking about making positive changes:
Make resolutions that you think you can keep. If, for example, if you intend to exercise more frequently, schedule three or four days a week at the gym instead of seven. If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt, instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment.
Change One Behavior at a Time
Unhealthy behaviors develop over time. Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess everything in your life. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time.
Talk About It
Share your experiences with family and friends. Consider joining a support group to reach your goals, such as a workout class at your gym or a group of coworkers quitting smoking. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Don’t give up entirely because you ate a brownie and broke your diet, or skipped the gym for a week because you were busy. Everyone has ups and downs; resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track.
Ask for Support
Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen 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.