Every January, we are bombarded by sayings and quotes that are meant to motivate us to embrace change; “new year, new me” or “new year, new beginnings.” While these statements inspire many to pursue their resolutions, others may find themselves stressed by the New Year.
Uncertainty and the unknown are huge triggers for individuals dealing with anxiety, and a new year can prompt these triggers. After all, we don’t know what the year will bring. For many, it’s the knowledge that things will change that gets the anxiety going.
As a faith-based ministry, Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries works with individuals to help them work through life’s challenges with faith. We know the impact that anxiety and anxious thoughts can have on a person’s life. We aim to provide support, Spiritual direction, and guidance to help them regain control of their life.
If you or someone you know is anxious about the New Year, we are sharing how to practice patience and move forward.
Accept that Real Change Takes Time
We often get pulled into the notion of resolutions and setting goals to improve our lives, whether physically, mentally, or financially. But we often overlook the time, patience, and dedication that is needed to achieve those goals.
“According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit (healthline.com).” When it comes to managing anxiety, change isn’t going to happen overnight. You need to put in the work to overcome anxious thoughts and prioritize your mental health.
Start Small, Attainable Goals
The biggest mistake people make when setting New Year’s resolutions is making their goals too broad or too big. For example, many of us say we want to lose weight, but what does that mean? Lose three pounds? Lose 50 pounds? In these instances, we encourage you to be more specific with your goals by breaking it down into smaller steps.
For example, instead of saying “I want to lose weight” say, “I want to lose ___ pounds this year, with a goal to lose ____ pounds every month.” It becomes less intimating and more achievable when we set smaller goals for ourselves.
When it comes to anxiety, instead of saying “I don’t want to be anxious anymore” say something like, “I want to prioritize my mental health so that my anxiety doesn’t control my life.” And from there, figure out what steps you can take to achieve this goal. Maybe it’s implementing a daily exercise routine or practicing healthier habits when you’re feeling anxious; for example, going for a walk instead of smoking a cigarette.
Seek Professional Support
Unfortunately, there is still a negative stigma around mental health. Because of this, "you may be reluctant to admit you need treatment. Don't let the fear of being labeled with a mental illness prevent you from seeking help. Treatment can provide relief by identifying what's wrong and reducing symptoms that interfere with your work and personal life (mayoclinic.org).”
The first steps toward change is accepting that a change needs to be made. If you or someone you know is letting anxiety control them, a change needs to be made. At Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries, our Christian counselors specialize in helping individuals improve their mental wellbeing by thinking Spiritually. This process has been proven helpful in decreasing anxiety and improving mood and self-esteem. Contact us to learn more about how this type of counseling could benefit you or someone you love.