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Creating and Keeping Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

Published on December 30, 2020 by First Responder Wellness

After the flurry and liveliness of holiday festivities comes a time for quiet reflection, as many look back on this past year and prepare for the next. This desire to continue improving oneself as we make our New Year’s resolutions is a healthy intention. It is admirable to make goals for ourselves continually, but when these goals become too unrealistic, we can set ourselves up to feel anxiety and disappointment if we do not achieve them. Setting goals that you can be confident and motivated about is a healthy way to create New Year’s Resolutions. Finding the balance between setting challenging yet attainable goals is key to achieving enriching goals throughout the coming year. 

As first responders, many are motivated and inspired by challenges. In this profession, every day on the job has the potential to lead to a direct, rewarding result of hard work. When first responders are faced with a problem, they actively look for solutions; this can positively translate into setting up challenging goals as the New Year approaches. However, it is valuable to keep in mind that creating too many at once can be overwhelming and inhibitory. 

Pragmatic Approaches

  • Be Realistic – When setting resolutions at the beginning of the year, it can be easy to get swept away in our many ideas for self-improvement. We can become overly-optimistic to a fault if we think we can solve all our problems at the onset of a new year. Improvement takes sustained effort and hard work. Instead of trying to amend all of your unhealthy habits, start with the one that you think is most detrimental to your health and well-being. Achieving one and then moving on to the next is a lot more manageable than having to face all of your unhealthy habits at once. For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, start by eliminating or adding one food group to your diet at a time. 
  • Don’t make too many resolutions – Around the beginning of every new year, you may have had the experience of people sharing their resolutions. Some may show off a long list of things they hope to either accomplish or stop doing. There is no rule about how many or how little you make, but if you think about it in terms of making promises to yourself, only make promises you know you can keep. This should be no different when you make them to yourself. You do not need to solve all of your problems in one year. Starting with one or a couple will help you get motivated to continue.
  • Make small resolutions throughout the year – By setting up smaller, more attainable goals at the beginning of the year, you are likely to feel more accomplished when you achieve a couple of small ones. Then this enables you to keep setting more goals after finishing each one. This is more productive than feeling overwhelming disappointment when you do not accomplish the long list you created at the start.  
  • Base your goals off of your desires, dreams, and aspirations – You are more likely to achieve a goal of yours that comes from a place of earnest wishes than if it were to come from a place of pressure from society or others. It may be tempting to influence your resolutions on whatever may be trending on a societal level or what everyone else is doing. Make sure that you are evaluating what you want, and base your goals on that.
  • Use the buddy system for accountability – Sometimes, when we have somebody else rooting for us, knowing they would be disappointed if we stopped trying to reach our goals can help us stay accountable. This can also make you feel less alone in challenging moments when you have a family member or friend who may be going through a similar challenge and can relate with you. 
  • Reward yourself when you meet resolutions – We often get down on ourselves when we do not meet a goal and forget to celebrate our accomplishments when we meet them. Having something to look forward to can be helpful when you are feeling a lack of motivation. Some healthy ways you can reward yourself can be entertainment related, doing something fun you enjoy, going to the spa, getting a massage, cooking your favorite meal, or taking yourself somewhere you’ve been wanting to go.  

Creating healthy New Year’s Resolutions can be advantageous toward improving your mental health and well-being. Sometimes it can be challenging to find a balance between making them challenging enough while still attainable. For first responders, facing and overcoming challenges can be something they are used to doing on the job, and this skill can translate well to attaining personal goals. Although it is important to keep these resolutions both realistic and manageable, they should still be based on your dreams and aspirations. This can help with motivation toward accomplishing them instead of being filled with anxiety and despondency if you do not achieve them. At First Responders Wellness, we understand the importance of maintaining one’s mental health by self-improving and striving to be better. We provide various mental health, well-being, and substance abuse treatments for first responders who may be struggling to cope in healthy ways. Reach out to us at (888) 743-0490.