It’s here; 2018 has arrived! A new year means a new beginning, a fresh start.
At this time, many people make New Year’s resolutions. The question is – how can one make the changes necessary to make this year different from the last year? What is the trick in making lasting changes when battling a mental illness?
Managing a behavioral health issue can be an uphill battle. Symptoms often interfere with motivation and socialization. It’s key, however, to remember that a disability does not prevent change. Although a disability may make it more difficult than for someone who does not have a mental disability, it does NOT mean that you cannot achieve your goals.
By promoting change, resolutions can be a positive force in improving the quality of one’s life.
When writing a New Year’s resolution it is important to make the SMART goals. The acronym SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
- A specific goal means avoiding generalizations. For example, if your goal is to “lose weight,” saying, “I will lose 15 pounds over six months,” sets a definite game plan.
- Measurable means being able to identify the progress. By stepping on a scale, you can measure how many pounds have been lost.
- Achievable means probably able to be done. Rather than giving up sweets entirely, instead limit oneself to one small piece of candy a day or eating one dessert only on Sundays.
- Relevant means it pertains to YOUR life. Losing weight is important for a number of health reasons and can often make one feel better about oneself.
- A goal that is “timely” is a goal that can be realized in a realistic time period.
Selecting the correct goal for your New Year’s resolution is the first step toward success. Some possible resolutions can pertain to: losing weight, exercising, taking medications properly, modifying eating habits – like increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, reading, spiritual activities, going to Pittsburgh Mercy’s Open Arts Studio, and quitting tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
There are many ways to stay motivated in 2018. Many people find an “I Did It Chart” to be useful. Such a chart, often marked with positive stickers, provides visual confirmation that the resolution has been achieved each day. Enlisting the assistance of a friend or group of friends can help. If walking for 20 minutes each day is your goal, the time will fly by when strolling and chatting with a buddy.
Another way is to appropriately reward oneself. After walking for the 20 minutes, enjoy listening to a favorite song or watch a TV show that you particularly enjoy. Other techniques include incorporating the goal into your daily routine by performing it at the same time every day. And don’t give up. If you stray, get back on track and try, try again.
Positive change can enrich one’s life. Taking control and achieving goals is empowering. Mental health disorders can complicate the process, but persevering and achieving your goals in 2018 is possible and will increase your level of satisfaction and happiness, and generate a feeling of accomplishment on a daily basis.