New Year’s resolutions do have value in creating recovery from anxiety disorders. However, we need to look at the big picture and look at recovery as a whole. Resolutions often tend to be less effective for various reasons. I want to discuss our approach to recovery for long-term results.
Often when people make a resolution of any kind, it is done so with a start date, with either an implication of lasting forever or until some specified end date. When thinking of recovery we need to think long-term, there is no end date for creating recovery. I have formally been working on my own recovery for 23+ years, and even with the amount of success as I have had, the one thing I have learned is that recovery is constantly evolving and changing.
Therefore when making a resolution it is more along the lines of “forever”, but even with this approach, we have to careful. Recovery is not a straight line from Point A to Point B. Recovery is made up of many ups & downs along the way. So when we think of “forever” we have to be realistic in our expectations.
When approaching resolutions I often suggest to not focus on reducing the amount of anxiety levels so much. But rather, focus on making the changes in your life that will allow you to have lower levels of anxiety. In other words, make a resolution to implement a schedule in your life to help you live more intellectually. Make a goal of practicing the tools every day (even 5 minutes is beneficial). And make a resolution to implement self-care habits into your life. These resolutions will offer you far greater benefits than trying to predict anxiety levels specifically.
Our recovery is based on changes in our conditioned behavioral response to our triggers. In order for us to create a new conditioning and therefore new behavioral responses, it will take time and effort for us to feel confident to ignore our initial thought of fear (anxiety).
So a resolution is good, and this time of year it is good to implement a resolution because we see it all around us. There is such an advertising campaign from so many manufacturers that will benefit from people making resolutions that it is impossible for us to ignore. So we can use this advertising push and all the hype to our advantage in our own efforts. I will also caution you to be careful and not get caught up with it and give yourself added stress from all the hype. We work at our own pace – small, manageable steps – use what you can for motivation, but please maintain your own pace.
Also when it comes to making a resolution we have to be careful not to feel like we ever failed. If we fall off track of the change we tried to make, we have to look at it as a learning process, not a failure. No one is perfect! I myself had dropped away from my own efforts to create change over the years. I would work really hard and start feeling good, and when I felt good I stopped my efforts. I figured I was past the point of needing to do so much. Eventually, my anxiety levels started to climb and I would go back to my efforts and my anxiety levels would drop again. So we all have to be patient with ourselves and be gentle with ourselves. This is not a race or a competition of any kind. This is a change in our lives to minimize our suffering and learn to live an unrestricted life from anxiety disorders.
Although we work within “small, manageable steps” and I often speak of patience and being gentle with ourselves, there is also a need for commitment & effort. If we allow ourselves the flexibility to see how “we feel”, then our emotions will dictate what we do, and almost certainly recovery will never be created.
The effort is in doing what you know needs to be done, despite how you feel about it. This is living intellectually. This is steering the ship which is your life. Committing to creating change and putting into action the necessary work to do so is the way recovery will be created.
Practice your tools! Very, very important; the tools are the Holy Grail of recovery. The more you practice and the more confidence you get in managing your thoughts, the greater your recovery will be. I cannot overstate this fact. Work your tools the best you can.
Practice self-care. You need to reestablish your own self-worth and self-value in your own life. You are important. Your peace of mind is important. It is not selfish to care for yourself, it is necessary for your physical, mental and emotional health.
Use a schedule to help keep you focused and organized. There are many distractions in life which can keep us from fulfilling our daily efforts. This is true for everyone! A schedule helps to keep us on track and will give us a fighting chance at getting our tasks completed. A schedule also helps us to do what is necessary despite our emotions. Do not allow your emotions to dictate what gets done in a day. Do what you need to regardless of how you “feel” about it.
I wish everyone a very happy and peaceful 2018! Never give up! Persistence!
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