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New Year’s Resolutions for the Depressed and Anxious

 

The start of a New Year can be really great for those of us who struggle with mental illness.  It can be a time to look back on the year and learn from it.  It is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings.  This time can be filled with hope and promise, but with it comes the stress of the New Year’s resolution.

I don’t know about you, but for me, a person who struggles with depression and anxiety, the idea of needing to make a New Year’s resolution puts me into a tizzy.  Just the word “resolution” itself carries such a heavy weight in my mind.  According to dictionary.com, a resolution is “an act of resolving or determining; firmness of purpose.”  This implies that there is no going back; it must be permanent.

Talk about PRESSURE – as if my self-esteem wasn’t already delicate enough from the depression or anxiety.  If you fail to resolve something for the year, your puny little self-esteem will be taking the fall.  Say goodbye to the hopes of getting over that depression or anxiety.  You’re doomed!

Okay, that may have been a bit over dramatic.  But that’s what my little anxious mind does with my thoughts.  I suggest you avoid that kind of intense pressure for the New Year and not set yourself up for failure by picking a dramatic resolution.  Instead of picking a lofty year-long commitment, I recommend making itty-bitty-sized goals and taking them one day at a time.

Depression and anxiety are hard enough to deal with, but accomplishing small goals one at a time may help improve your moods.  So, where does one get the motivation?  If you are struggling with mental illness, just getting up for the day is hard enough.  Here are some tips from Dr. Gabriela Cora, to help you get motivated:

  • Get out of bed.  This is the first step to starting a fresh, new day.  Push yourself to not only get up and out of bed, but to also take a shower and make yourself look nice.  Good self-care helps boost self-esteem and motivation.  Recognize that these seemingly small things are mini-victories in and of themselves.
  • Get some exercise.  Once you are up and out of bed, try to get at least ten minutes of exercise.  Exercise releases endorphins, which improves mood and helps manage anxiety.  Even small amounts of exercise, such as going for a short walk, can help pull you out of a no-motivation mindset.
  • Break tasks and goals into small steps.  For me, this is the most important tip.  For people with depression or anxiety, goals can be very overwhelming if not broken down into small parts.  I suggest writing down your goals and then further breaking them down into more manageable pieces to tackle one at a time.  “For example, a writer could just commit to doing a paragraph at a time, rather than an entire article.  By breaking it down this way, you feel like you are accomplishing something,” suggests Dr. Cora.
  • Build on any positive developments.  Every time you get up for the day and interact with life, you are achieving success for someone dealing with depression or anxiety.  Realize this achievement and reward yourself.  Build upon it to achieve your goals.

If you are still not motivated, then don’t fret!  There is no rule saying you absolutely must have a New Year’s resolution.  Start small, and see if the little victories help motivate you to make a big change.  Also remember to take life one day at a time.  Looking into the past or the future will just create more unnecessary anxiety and depression.

Happy New Year!

 

Works Cited:

  1. Murnaghan, Ian. “Setting Realistic Goals to Overcome Depression.” OvercomeDepression. 2012. Web. 07 December 2012.
  2. “resolution.’ (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 07, 2012, from Dictionary.com website.
  3. Tracy, Natasha. “New Year’s Resolution Pressure Bad for Mental Illness.” HealthyPlace. 2011. Web. 07 December 2012.

 

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Filed under: Holidays · Tags: anxiety, depression, Dr. Gabriela Cora, helpful tips