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  • Rachel Saenger, LPC-S, LMFT-S

Healthier Ways to Set New Year’s Resolutions and Maintain Lifestyle Changes


Now that the festivities of the holiday season have come and gone, it is common for many of us to experience low mood levels. As everyday life resumes, January provides us with a unique set of challenges. The traditional custom of New Year’s Resolutions can be a further source of stress as we place additional pressure on ourselves to set and achieve them. While it can be helpful to work toward a career, self-improvement, and or fitness goal, mental health should also be factored into the equation. When we have good mental health and wellness, we are better able to make positive changes in the other aspects of our day to day lives.

In 2020 and beyond we encourage a daily commitment to improving mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Healthier Ways to Set New Year’s Resolutions

It is tempting to stick to common resolutions that when examined further, might not be in our best interest as individuals. When committing ourselves to a resolution or lifestyle change, we must first consider the driving forces behind them. Are they coming from a place of self-love? Or are they an attempt to live up to external forces such as cultural or media expectations? This can be the case in the area of weight loss in particular. Making a daily commitment to live a healthier lifestyle is important, but health is the keyword. How we feel mentally, emotionally, and physically are of equal importance. Instead of focusing purely on losing weight, due to external expectations, we might shift our attention to the following intention:

“I am committed to improving my emotional, mental, and physical well-being.”

When changes come from a place of self-love, they are not just better for us, we are more likely to sustain them beyond the January season. Making a daily commitment to improving your mental, emotional, and physical well-being doesn’t need to be an additional expense or very time-consuming. There are everyday and affordable ways in which we can all explore improvement in these areas. Such as:

  • Talking about your feelings to loved ones, friends, colleagues or a therapist.

  • Taking breaks when needed. This could be a quick walk away from your desk at work or sitting down to rest in between household chores.

  • Stay hydrated with water and herbal teas, and limit alcohol intake.

  • Never be afraid to ask for help from your support networks, or a professional therapist when needed. This is a sign of strength, not weakness.

  • Engage in an activity that brings you joy. This could be painting, mindful breathing, walking, gardening, dancing, or anything else that you enjoy.

  • Eating well daily. By nourishing our bodies, we also nourish our minds.

  • Connect with others. Meet up with a friend for coffee, call a family member, or join a community group to form new connections.

  • Accept who you are. When we start to embrace every aspect of who we are (even the “negative”), we take a step toward self-acceptance.

Healthier Ways to Maintain Resolutions and Lifestyle Changes

If we hope to sustain our resolutions and or lifestyle changes, making these changes slowly is recommended. In our previous post, Kristie Lensing, LPC shared the following wisdom:

“Healing happens differently for each individual and learning to listen to the self is part of that healing process. There are times when we want healing to come quickly and at the same time slowing down the process can allow for great insights, awareness, and healing – sometimes we slow down to speed up.”​

Slowing down to speed up can be applied to many areas of our lives, including sustaining lifestyle changes. It is natural to want to see results instantly meaning we may rush toward our goal(s). It is more effective, however, to start slowly and with the support of trusted friends, family or a therapist. Consider breaking larger intentions down into small achievable steps. By working our way back from our end goal, we can identify the path needed, and set some roadsigns for ourselves along the way.

Throughout this journey, grace and compassion should always be practiced. Even if an achievement seems small, we should reward ourselves for putting in the work. Setting aside time for reflection can help us to stay grounded. Many people find journaling a useful tool to capture important insights. This also provides an opportunity to re-engage with the self and assess progress. Remember that it is okay for our resolutions to evolve as our journey progresses. As we experience life changes, areas that served us in January might not be so relevant 6 months down the line.

If you would like to know more about the services offered at Georgetown Counseling and Wellness, please don’t hesitate to reach out on (512) 400-4247.

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​© 2015 by Rachel Saenger, LPC-S, LMFT-S