Mental Health Healing Man

Coping With “Resolution Season”

It’s that time of year again! The gyms are packed with people resolute in turning over a new, fit leaf, cigarette smokers are crushing packs and affixing patches, and fast-food junkies are perusing the produce aisles at the grocery store. The season of the New Year’s resolution is upon us, and it will remain in full swing until sometime mid-February.

Some of these people will remain firm in their resolve, and see their promises to themselves through to a long-lasting lifestyle change. However, the majority of people who make New Year’s resolutions eventually backslide, either partially or completely, back into the behavior they were trying to change. Why does this happen? Possibly due to setting lofty and unattainable goals.

By setting big goals, we can walk into a situation feeling ready to clobber Something Big, when in reality we aren’t quite ready yet. This can lead to feelings of self-judgment and self-criticism, feeling like a failure, and even bring on episodes of depression. But rather than beat yourself up, if you should become one of the many for whom this year’s resolution was not to be, avoid judging yourself harshly. Instead, review your resolution: was it realistic? Could it have been broken down into simpler, more manageable steps? Is there a smaller goal you can set instead?

Once you determine what caused the resolution to flop, you can create a plan to solve the problem. Remember: resolutions for behavioral change can happen any day of the year. You don’t have to throw up your hands in defeat and give up because February or March found you marching to the beat of an old drum—you can make a Valentine’s Day resolution, or an Easter resolution, or a Just-Because-It’s-August-2nd-and-I-Have-Nothing-Better-to-Do resolution. Self-growth doesn’t have to involve a bandwagon, and it doesn’t have an expiration date or a start date, so make realistic changes whenever you feel inspired to—no matter what day it is!