Living with anxiety often heightens discomfort with change — even when it is positive. This new year, learn how to take small, manageable steps towards self-improvement by identifying objectives.
The beginning of the new year often signifies an opportunity for a fresh start, with many people making resolutions to improve their personal routines or habits. However, expectations for significant life changes at the beginning of the New Year can be incredibly stressful, especially if you are struggling with anxiety. Instead of committing yourself to hard-to-maintain resolutions, here are a few objectives to consider pursuing during the new year.
Objective 1: Take Small Steps
Though setting New Year’s resolutions is an extremely popular practice, studies have shown that around 80% of resolutions have been totally abandoned by February. The reason that resolutions often aren’t successful in the long term is linked to the stress and discomfort around making sudden, major life changes. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aim for positive change in life, but what it does indicate is that building capacity to handle the change is a critical element in achieving it.
Creating objectives for yourself can be more constructive to personal growth in the long term. Unlike resolutions, which require significant change that starts immediately, objectives indicate a process towards a long-term goal. This allows you to start with smaller, more manageable steps towards change, increasing your chances for success and reducing your anxiety.
Objective 2: Cultivate Optimism
An optimistic attitude is clearly linked to good mental health, but looking at the world in a positive light doesn’t always come naturally – or easily. Being able to see what is good in ourselves and the world around us takes concentrated practice. Like any good habit, it’s something we have to remind ourselves about and engage in daily in order to see long-term impacts.
You can begin by finding ways to pull yourself out of negative or anxious thoughts, and into positive, calming ones. Consider taking a few minutes each day to write down positive things that have happened – a phone call from a friend, a beautiful sunrise, catching your favorite TV show, remembering to take the trash out, or a compliment regarding your work. Try to avoid categorising something as “small” or “meaningless.” What brings us peace, calm, or happiness is immeasurably important, and the recognition of these things each day can help us shift our mindset in a positive way.
Objective 3: Make a ‘Calm Kit’
As you are identifying things or activities that make you feel calm or happy, collect these and keep them for when your anxiety starts to shift into high gear. These could be physical objects like a yoga mat, a particular type of tea or coffee, aromatic oils, or books.
Alternatively, it could be a list of written reminders to go take a walk, call a trusted friend, or do deep breathing exercises. Anxiety often makes people feel confused or scattered, which can delay engaging in activities that can help reduce it. By having a kit at the ready, you will be prepared for when those feelings come on, and can start easing them right away.
Objective 4: Build Self-Trust
As you continue to make small, yet important things happen in your life, begin to tell yourself “What I say to myself is what I do.” This is a critical element of building self-trust, which improves confidence and can help alleviate anxiety. When you trust that you can do what you need to do, this predisposes you to success, even in challenging situations. However, it is important to remember that setting unreasonable goals, ones that require immediate major change or skills that you don’t yet have, can jeopardise your self-trust. Keep your steps towards change small and in tandem with a personal growth rate you think is manageable given where you are at in life, and your self-trust will stay strong.
Objective 5: Don’t Hide
Anxiety is a common mental health issue. In fact, over 40 million Americans over the age of 18 struggle with some type of anxiety disorder. Despite its prevalence, many people try to hide their anxiety and avoid seeking treatment. This can actually worsen anxiety, and make it more difficult for people to live normal, happy lives.
An important objective for people living with anxiety is, to the extent they feel comfortable, to be open about it. This means sharing feelings, stressors, and fears with trusted friends, coworkers or family members. Trying to manage anxiety on your own can be tremendously isolating, and you may be surprised by how many others you talk with deal with some form of anxiety in their lives as well. Sharing your experiences can not only help ease your burden, but also allow others to open up about their struggles.
Objective 6: Embrace Discovery
When you live with anxiety, engaging in new experiences can feel especially daunting. However, sticking to only familiar routines can limit opportunities for personal growth, and hinder the discovery of new tools or activities that might be useful to you in dealing with anxiety. This doesn’t mean that you need to push yourself to do things that scare you (you can wait on the skydiving!), but simply to try small new things. Try taking a new route to work, watch a movie you wouldn’t normally, try new food, or check out a new exercise class with a friend. The purpose is to breathe new life into your routines, and increase opportunities for self-discovery.
Objective 7: Reach Out
If you feel that your anxiety is becoming overwhelming and unmanageable, this may be the time to consider reaching out for professional support. You can start the process by talking to your doctor, or by researching different options online.
With the guidance of an experienced therapist, you can explore your stressors and identify new, effective coping mechanisms to help you navigate and ultimately overcome feelings of anxiety. Living with anxiety doesn’t have to be a constant struggle, and many find that talking to a professional helps them achieve a greater sense of control and understanding of their condition.
Finding Calm at The Dawn
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab is a premier mental wellness facility located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Dawn is licensed by the Thai Ministry of Health and staffed by compassionate, experienced professionals under the guidance of renowned British psychotherapist David Smallwood. Our mental wellness programme is specially designed to help you feel better almost immediately, gain an improved understanding of your symptoms, and teach you skills to manage your condition.
Anxiety Retreat in Thailand
Our boutique riverfront facility is located in the serene natural beauty of Northern Thailand. Just a convenient one-hour flight from the capital city of Bangkok, The Dawn offers private rooms, a gym, swimming pool, meditation and fitness centre. Our unique Twin Pillars approach to treatment combines the most effective Western psychotherapeutic techniques with proven Eastern wellness practices to ensure that every aspect of your anxiety is addressed.
Start the New Year off with the objective of wellness: call us today to learn more about how we can help you overcome your anxiety at The Dawn.