How to Combat New Year's Resolutions Anxiety
It’s 2021! How are we feeling? Ready to conquer the world?
Maybe not. And honestly, that’s ok! We’ve all been through a LOT throughout 2020. COVID, lock-downs, grief, loss, isolation, the emotional rollercoaster that is holiday anxiety… it seems like we’ve hardly caught our breath! And now that we’ve made it to January, New Year’s resolutions want to join in on the fun.
Maybe you’ve already made your goals for the new year and you’re motivated and feeling great. Maybe you’ve tried to start making goals and got too overwhelmed and feel like a failure already. Maybe you don’t want to even think about goals. Maybe you’re somewhere in between. Wherever you are, take a deep breath.
Your worth and your value are not determined by your accomplishments.
As someone who suffers from anxiety, perfectionism, and fear of failure, thinking about making-- and keeping!--New Year’s resolutions can be overwhelming, intimidating, and downright terrifying. That intimidation is amplified by how unpredictable 2020 was and 2021 still is.
To keep goal-making for the new year as frustration-free as possible, I’ve collected some strategies and coping tools to help you tackle your New Year’s resolutions anxiety.
There is SO MUCH constantly changing in life. And that’s why planning can be so hard and scary. We can plan and make goals and prepare for the future, but there’s no guarantee that any of it will work out the way we think it will. Life throws curveballs at us.Those curveballs can be incredibly overwhelming, isolating, lonely. Hard. No one is exempt from the effects of life. As drab and hopeless as that sounds, there is hope. We are not alone in our struggles. Because hard things happen to everyone, hard things can bring us together. We’ve witnessed for ourselves with the A Baby For Christmas Fundraiser how much good can come from a community working together to raise each other up.
You are an integral part of your community. Of our community. Are you raising yourself up? What can you do for yourself this year? Not for anyone else. For you. Just you.
There is so much that we can’t control about life, but we can control how we choose to respond to what life throws at us. Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions solely about what we want to accomplish this year, let’s focus those goals through the filter of who we want to become this year.
So let’s get into it. Here are 10 strategies that will help you work through your New Year’s Resolutions anxiety and prepare you to make goals that will help you focus on becoming.
- Deep breathing
- Find the root cause of your anxiety
- Positive affirmations
- Take control of what you can
- Start small
- Open and honest communication
- Remember that you're a human being, not human doing
- Talk back to your insecurities and self doubts
- Set up a support system
- Reward yourself
Deep, slow, abdominal box breathing does wonders for decreasing stress and anxiety. Sit or stand in a comfortable position, with your back straight and relaxed. Slowly breathe in for 5 counts (if that’s too much, start with 2!) At the top of the breath, hold for 5 counts, but keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Release the breath slowly for 5 counts. Repeat for as long as it takes for your heart rate to go down and for you to feel ready to face the next step.
Find the root cause of your anxiety surrounding resolutions, or goals in general! Is it fear of failure? Is it exhaustion or overwhelm at the idea of adding another thing to your already overflowing plate? Is it something else? Acknowledging the root cause of anxiety is the first step to owning it, and owning it is the first step towards healing.
Pick a healing mantra/positive affirmation to tell yourself. My favorite affirmations come from Winnie the Pooh: “Always remember that you are braver than you believe, smarter than you think, stronger than you seem, and loved more than you know.”
Practice taking control of what you can. The word control used to flood my mind and soul with anxiety. I immediately shut down because for so long, control meant restricting the thoughts and feelings that naturally come with anxiety. I would tell myself “If I can just stop xyz, THEN things will be better.” I thought I had to work harder; that it was MY fault that I have anxiety. Healthy control is NOT about restricting emotions. I repeat, HEALTHY control is NOT about restricting emotions. Control is choosing to authentically feel whatever it is you’re feeling and then making plans- and changing plans- accordingly. It’s owning where you are, accepting where you are, and allowing yourself to move forward-- at your own pace and in your own way. And it works for anything that you want to take charge of in your life.
Don’t worry about planning for the entire year--think about what you can change today or this week to progress and become. Pick one or two manageable, sustainable goals. Start where you are. Intentional choices lead to intentional living. Living with intent enables us to achieve inner peace in spite of what chaos might surround us.
Open and honest communication goes hand in hand with making intentional choices. We need to be honest with others, but also with ourselves. Why are we making the choices we make? How are those choices making us feel? Which choices need to be revised? Journaling is a good way to self-reflect and keep that communication with ourselves open. When’s the last time you communicated with yourself? If you don’t have a journal that you love, we have a great selection to choose from.
You're a human being
Remember that you are a human being, not a human doing. Your self-worth is not determined by your accomplishments. Focus on the process of becoming rather than the product of achieving. For example, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the goal of running a marathon, focus on the process of becoming stronger through more regular exercise.
Talk back to insecurities
Talk back to your insecurities and self-doubts that tell you that you will never be enough. You are enough already. As a thought about yourself enters your mind, ask yourself if it is helpful for you. If it is, great! Keep it and act on it. If it’s not helpful, is it even true? Check the facts. If you’re in a mindset that makes it difficult to distinguish reality from anxiety, get a trusted friend, family member, coach, or therapist to help you work through it. If you find that the thought is NOT true (ex: you’re a failure, you’ll never be happy again, etc,) try to reframe it with something more truthful and helpful. Practice compassion for yourself.
Set up support
Set up a support system. It can be accountability partners, sticky notes, alarms on your phone, color coded planners, fridge magnets … whatever it is, make it work for you.
It’s important to celebrate every step of your progression. Noticing and celebrating personal strengths leads to increased self confidence. Increased self confidence leads to increased action. Increased action leads to increased personal strengths which leads to- you guessed it- increased confidence. Rewards are an important part of the cycle of progression.
Goals should support you. As you make your New Year’s Resolutions and think about all the things you want to do this year, make sure they align with who you want to become. Take it back to the basics.
Who do you want to become?
We at Good Grief Journals are here to help support you in who you want to become, and in how you choose to transform. We’re so grateful that you are part of our family. Join our email list and let’s chat on Instagram! Don’t hesitate to reach out and help us help you. You are not alone.
Happy New Year!