The beginning of every year is the most stressful time for a lot of people. After a long holiday season during Christmas and New Year together in family’s company, people all need a break in order to get back to the routine of daily life. This makes January one of the hardest times in a year.
Allied with all this New Year angst is another cause of upset: the stress of sticking to a New Year’s Resolution. Very few of them are successful. Indeed the estimate is that 80% will fail every year.
Whatever, resolutions that lead to living more healthily lives, and involve throwing away negative habits, hold out the hope of being very beneficial in the long term. But, some resolutions, however worthy, are apt to trigger significant stress for the person who makes them and those that surround that person.
Quitting smoking unsurprisingly tops the list. It’s not a simple addiction to shed. It’s a three part addiction: chemical, physical and psychological. If withdrawing from the powerful drug of nicotine isn’t bad enough, the challenge is compounded by the stress of making a significant lifestyle change that involves acting differently both physically and mentally.
People who smoke tend to use the habit as a way of coping with the many issues in their lives. They get used to the physical addiction of putting a cigarette in the mouth. They associate having a puff with taking time out to feel better. While the nicotine doesn’t take kindly to being ousted. The stress triggered by turning your back on smoking kicks off a spiral. And if that’s not bad enough, the spiral keeps on escalating.
To get relief it’s important to fill this gaping hole in your life with other thoughts and actions that can help you handle the stress of missing your addictions. This is the only way of making a success of your decision and relieving the stress for you and everyone around you.
Attempting to lose weight is another popular choice at the turn of each year. The resolution is no doubt inspired by a desire to improve health along with the benefit of fitting into smaller, thinner clothes. But diets can trigger immense frustration, especially if they involve depriving yourself of your favorite foods. The biological changes can also lead to mood swings and anger as a result of dispensing with the comfort of another coping mechanism. Stress management is key. It’s important to replace what you are losing with something that is less harmful, be it exercise or healthier food and drink.
Whatever the particular change you’ve chosen to attempt, your New Year’s Resolution can be even more stressful if you set your goal too high with an almost impossible time frame in which you hope it can be achieved.
Let’s face it: making changes to habits is one of the most difficult things to achieve. We make it even more difficult by expecting to be able to do it without making mistakes. New Year’s Resolutions have to allow for wiggle room – the possibility of setbacks has to be built into the strategy.
Otherwise a single failure has the potential to bring the whole totem pole down with it. Believing that a New Year’s Resolution requires perfection and adamant adherence is the road to failure.
To attain and maintain resolutions with the least stress, you need to design a different format for your goals. Don’t run. If necessary just crawl. Build in rewards to pay yourself on the back for the progress you are able to make, and try to make as few changes as you need.