New Year’s Resolutions are often a great opportunity for us to check in with ourselves, find gaps between where we are and where we’d like to be, and address those gaps by making goals for a happier, healthier year. But as positive as this opportunity can be, it can also add a lot of pressure if you’re already struggling with an anxiety disorder.
At Recovery Care, Dr. Rosen and her mental health counseling team want those who are struggling with anxiety to know that there are ways of setting positive goals for the new year without triggering negative thoughts or putting too much pressure on yourself. Here are three things to remember as you look forward to 2021:
Don’t Radically Change Your Routine
Societal expectations surrounding the new year can make us feel like we’ve got a fresh start in life, a clean slate on which to write brand-new, healthier ways of going about our day to day. While this attitude is positive and exciting, it can also be misleading. For someone who struggles with mental health, this gulf between expectations and reality can be devastating, leading to self-blame and triggering symptoms of anxiety or depression. Instead of setting yourself up for failure with radically routine-changing resolutions, try creating goals that are achievable within the existing framework of your life. By altering little things here and there, you can actually create long term changes without becoming overwhelmed.
Make Realistic Goals for Yourself
The way New Years’ Resolutions are marketed to us in the world today is often quite “pie-in-the-sky,” revolving around extreme actions that will change your life forever. This attitude can quickly become daunting for anyone, let alone someone living with anxiety who can become easily overwhelmed by a task that seems impossible. The thing to remember is that these tasks don’t seem impossible because you’re weak-minded, or you aren’t working hard enough. They seem impossible because they most likely are impossible, at least to achieve in the space of a single year.
Instead of setting lofty, long-term goals whose ends are difficult to set your sights on, try setting short-term, quickly attainable goals. This is especially helpful if you struggle with certain anxiety comorbidities such as bipolar disorder or ADHD, where “instant gratification” is often necessary to stay on course for long-term results. Get out of the mindset that instant gratification is a bad thing that makes you lazy or weak-willed. It’s just a stepping stone that your hard-working brain needs to achieve what you want!
Failure (and Success) Are Relative
Maybe the most important thing to remember while creating your New Year’s Resolutions as someone with anxiety and other mental health struggles is that comparing yourself to others is not a constructive way to gauge your own success. While it may be tempting to find structure in someone else’s experience, you never know what advantages (and disadvantages) may be propelling them forward or holding them back. Measure your success by your own standards, and those standards alone. Any time you get something on your list accomplished, that’s something worth celebrating, and you should take the time and space to feel proud!
If anxiety and other mental health struggles are truly presenting an obstacle to you achieving your goals and living the life you deserve in 2021, don’t work through it alone -- reach out for help! Dr. Rosen and the team at Recovery Care are proud to stand with you, providing group and individual mental health counseling at our locations in Jeanette, PA and Keyser, West Virginia.
Ready to start addressing your mental health in 2021? Schedule an appointment today and take the first step toward being your best self.