It’s clear that these last couple of years have been tough for a lot of people.
So now that it’s the week when people make New Year’s resolutions, go easy on yourself.
If you’d like to make a resolution, start small, the American Psychological Association (APA) suggests. By small, the goal should be one you think you can keep.
For example, if you want to eat healthier, don’t make your diet a form of punishment — try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy. If your goal is to exercise more, schedule three or four days a week at the gym, not all seven.
That was prior to the pandemic and more recently researchers said she is encouraging people to set resolutions that “offer themselves grace and self-forgiveness.”
For those who are setting more standard resolutions, change one behavior at a time, the APA recommends. Replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones can be done over time — and one at a time — similar to how unhealthy behaviors develop over time.
Share experiences with family, friends or possibly even a support group to help reach goals such as quitting smoking. This makes the journey to a healthier lifestyle easier and less intimidating, according to the APA.
Know that perfection isn’t attainable and minor missteps are normal, the APA said. Ask for support from those who care about you to help strengthen your resilience, or consider seeking professional help if you feel overwhelmed and unable to reach your goals on your own.
Researchers suggests a goal that’s more specific to these challenging years, such as a self-forgiveness goal where you allow yourself to be a little late to a meeting so you can finish your coffee before starting work, or pause when you think a family dinner needs to be “just right.”
Another goal could be gratitude-focused, such as writing down three things you are grateful for each week, researchers recommended. It could be calling or texting someone you haven’t talked with lately.
Levin noted there are increased rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse as the pandemic continues.
“People are searching to find mental stability amid a changing environment. So this year, let us not be our harshest critics,” researchers said. “Let us offer ourselves kindness, grace and forgiveness. Let us set those as our resolutions.”