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The new year can be a time to start fresh and have a clean slate. With that comes the pressure to set goals, the anxiety of achieving them or not, the over- focus on body image, dieting and exercise, and unrealistic expectations. So, how do we embrace the good and avoid the bad? Making recovery- oriented goals for the year, month, week, or even day can be a daunting task. Our approach is to focus on the things your illness, addiction, or disorder has taken from you and resolve to fulfill your life. Instead of focusing on eliminating behaviors, aim to add positive influences. Here are three categories to help guide your new years resolution- with examples!
Have you lost touch with your family? Have you stopped practicing religion? Have you isolated yourself from something you used to enjoy? Add these back into your life.
Examples: write a letter to a friend you haven’t talked to. Call your family members weekly. Participate in religion or spiritual practices. Go on vacation with friends.
Have you fallen into a coping rut? Are you using the same techniques, skills or activities repeatedly? Are you using healthy coping skills? Are you practicing self- care at all? Trying new and different ways to handle your daily stress, anxiety, depression, and emotions support recovery by challenging your brain. Matching emotions with appropriate coping also increases your self- awareness. Using self- care as a preventative measure as well as coping support recovery in a meaningful and lasting way.
Examples: Join a book club. learn to knit. Knit a scarf. Take a bubble bath every Sunday. Try three new coping skills every month. Make a list of coping skills- cross off the ones that are not helpful. Join a support group.
Isolation, avoidance, and withdrawl from what used to be enjoyable activities is poison to recovery. So even when every ounce of our bodies tell us to hide under the covers- we must get out of bed and engage with the world!
Examples: Volunteer. Participate in a fundraising event. Engage in social media. Take a class. Take a yoga class. Join the public library.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Recovery is not a straight line, missing a goal is an opportunity to re-focus and start where you’re at- not where you want to be. Set realistic, and attainable goals that are support your path.
Happy New Year!
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” -Plato
As a coach I’m always telling people how important self-care is, to take time each day for you. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, taking time to unwind and let your mind be at ease can change your whole mood. One way I do self-care is through music; music has always been such an important part of my life, it’s been my way for me to escape even if only for a song. I thought I’d share some songs that I listen to when I’m in need of some comfort whether I’ve had a bad day or my self confidence is low, these songs have always helped me through. Bare with me folks, some of these songs may not be the ones you’d typically listen to but give them a try, listen, smile, and always dance!
1. Get into the holiday spirit. It doesn’t matter which holiday you chose, or if you celebrate all of them. December is packed with days of celebration. So instead of worrying about who you’re going to see, what gifts you need to get, what you’re going to wear, and that never ending to-do list; get out and do something fun.
How to: Is there a holiday lights display in your town? How about a seasonal show, ballet, or event? Or stay in, have a movie marathon, bake cookies, host a holiday party! New Year’s Eve brings even more opportunity to get out and have fun. End 2016 in high spirits!
2. Stay in touch with friends and family. This time of year we’re inundated with holiday cards, family pictures on Facebook, and reminders of the people we care about. Unfortunately, this can also be a reminder of all the people I haven’t talked to as much as I wanted, or those I’ve fallen out of touch with. I know my life is very busy, and I am so grateful that my friends and family let me periodically disappear. So, before the year is up, find everyone you want to maintain relationships with, and make that happen.
How to: This could be a simple phone call or text just to say “Hello- I’ve been thinking about you- Happy Holidays!” Or invite someone to that great New Year’s Eve party you planned after reading the first goal. I love sending out quick holiday cards, just pick up a couple from the store and send those out- quick, easy, not too expensive, but it has a big impact!
Disclaimer: You do not have to stay in touch with everyone! In fact there are people that you might feel obligated to, but you don’t want to continue that relationship- so don’t! Only continue relationships that you feel are a positive force and bring strength.
3. Spend time alone– without your phone, computer, tv, or any other screen. Take a day to really disconnect from everyone and everything. I know this sounds somewhat contradictory to our last goal, but this is important. Taking this time to just be you, let’s us recharge and re-evaluate how we’re doing. Being comfortable alone is a life skill that we need to keep practicing- being comfortable with ourselves makes us more comfortable with others.
How to: Go on a walk, take a nice long shower or bath, go on a drive. I find that leaving my environment to be alone is best because it really forces me to notice my solitude and find comfort and peace in that.
4. Get rid of what’s causing you stress. I do not mean, quit your job or buy a new car. We don’t all have the luxury to do that, but go for it if that’s what you need. So, my room is cluttered, not messy or disorganized but cluttered. Everything has a place, but there are too many things in that place. So, to get rid of my stress at home, I am going to get rid of a bunch of my clutter! But this goal doesn’t have to be about actually removing things, it can be mending or re-organizing too, the goal here is to start 2017 without this stress looming over us as we set new years resolutions.
How to: I already gave the example of de-cluttering and cleaning things that need it, like my car, or organizing the stack labeled “to be filed” in my office. But other things that stress me out are all the gifts I need to buy, so I’m getting a head start and my goal is to be done before the 20th this year. (I confess I normally do a lot of last minute shopping) I have a lot of work to do as the year draws to an end, so I’ve created weekly goals and schedules for completing all of this. For me, having a clear plan of how to tackle all the chaos relaxes me, even if I have to fall back to plans C, D, or E. Another important part of this planning is setting boundaries for myself and others. This is a clear understanding of what I can handle, and being comfortable with that. For example, the goals I set for work are realistic and reflect the time commitment to family and friends during the holiday season.
5. Set goals for 2017. If you’ve completed goals 1-4 you are ending 2016 in high spirits, you’re staying in touch with those you care about, you’ve taken inventory of your year and pruned out some stress. Now what? Moving forward how are you going to keep this up? What didn’t go well in 2016 that you want to change in 2017? What can you change, and what are you willing to? Answering these questions are half the battle but next is making an action plan. There is no change without follow through.
How to: So a goal is to exercise more, so you’ll join a gym. But knowing yourself, how realistic is this? What’s going to happen, what might be some barriers to you completing this goal? Then make a plan to counteract those barriers. For example, sign up for a personal trainer that holds you to appointments, or sign up for classes that have specific times that you have to pay for in advance. Want to stay organized? Great. but how? Setting goals without action plans is like packing for a vacation without knowing the destination: you might be ok, but the trip might be more enjoyable if you planned ahead.
If you or someone you know needs help navigating the road to recovery in Wisconsin, get in touch with one of our confidential Admissions Specialists.
Telephone: (262) 443-7192
Fax: (262) 244-1434
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