how to approach new year’s resolutions when you struggle with anxiety

how to approach new year’s resolutions when you struggle with anxiety

no resolutions? no problem.

First thing’s first: HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Christmas is almost here and before we all know it, it’s going to be 2019 (I can’t believe it either!). And with the New Year comes the “new YOU”right? Ugh, wrong. So wrong.

I ditched the typical New Year’s resolutions – aka losing weight and participating in fitness challenges – a couple of years ago. THANK GOODNESS I did, because honestly, those goals did nothing but set me up for disappointment, defeat or feeling like I failed in some way.

Now, I’m all for implementing healthier lifestyle choices; if it helps you to begin those on the first of the year, then go for it! Personally, I have to tread lightly with this all-too-popular trend because let’s be real – if I set a goal and fail at it, I’ll feel nothing but shame toward myself. That’s not a way to start the New Year, now is it?

If you’re anything like me and battle regular anxiety or even high levels of stress, I recommend taking a different approach to your 2019 resolutions intentions. 

Instead of setting goals focused on specific (and sometimes unrealistic) results, I encourage you to set intentions that focus on feelings.

What does that mean, you ask? Well, allow me to elaborate by digging into the three aspirations I plan to work on in the upcoming year.

listen to your body

Instead of calorie counting or following a specific diet, eat what makes you feel good; instead of scheduling five workouts each week, listen to your body and workout when it feels right.

If you’ve read my previous blog on food, you know I’ve learned my lesson from dieting too hard (*cough cough* Whole30). Now, I focus on eating balanced meals that make me feel my best.

Well, I’ve also been known to go a little overboard with my fitness routine in the last decade or so – pushing myself too hard to the point of injury or burnout. But no matter how much I was exercising, I wasn’t seeing any kind of results. Thankfully, I took note from my personal trainer and instead of forcing 5+ workouts in each week, I started to allow myself to rest when my body was tired, super sore or simply if I wasn’t feeling up to it. The benefit? Not only do I feel better physically, my mental health has improved. Win-win!

practice setting boundaries

Boundaries are hard, but damn are they worth setting. Setting boundaries – learning to say no for your own benefit – will do wonders for your overall mental health.

Also, communicating your wants and needs to those closest to you will allow you to express yourself and give your family and friends the opportunity to better understand who you are. Practice setting boundaries with your partner, friends and family members, and focus on feeling less guilty and more at peace with the idea. Read more on how I’m working on this whole boundaries thing here.

prioritize self-care

Don’t wait until January 1 – make it a priority to take care of yourself first right now. Self-care means something different for everyone, but for me it means committing to less with others (hi, boundaries!) and doing more to fuel my needs.

Friendly reminder: self-care is not selfish. So, listen to your thoughts; listen to your body. What do you need? Fulfill those needs and desires – make more time for you.

So, 2019 may not be the year I conquer the keto diet or the year that I run my first marathon (I can barely manage a 5K and I’m totally OK with that!) … But, it will be a year full of mindfulness and self-care – two things I am proud to be working toward.

You don’t need to become a new person in the New Year, but I do recommend putting more effort into listening to your body, being mindful and being happy. What intentions have you set for the upcoming year?

Happy almost-2019!

xoxo,

Lisa


Please note that I am not a mental health professional. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.

how setting boundaries strengthened my relationships

how setting boundaries strengthened my relationships

Boundaries: a foreign topic to me until the last couple of years. I received a lot of “me, too!” comments and messages from my recent Instagram post about setting boundaries … So, along with the important role boundaries play during the busy holiday season, I’ve decided to expand on the topic here.

Pretty sure I was born a people-pleaser. I am the QUEEN of over-promising and over-committing myself to plans and activities – and most of the time, it’s to make others happy, not myself.

Too many commitments squeezed into my already busy schedule always amounts to added stress. The built-up stress leads to anxiety. The anxiety leads to panic attacks. Oh, and if I cancel or just don’t show up to plans I’ve committed to? The guilt I feel is paralyzing. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that takes its toll on me both physically and mentally.

I stumbled upon a quote that sums up boundaries (or the lack thereof) in my life:

“If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.” – Cheryl Richardson

The war I create inside myself when I don’t set boundaries not only causes me anxiety, but it also keeps me from developing real, meaningful relationships with myself and with others.

So, what exactly are boundaries?

According to The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, boundaries help us to define who we are.  They orient us in our relationships,and signify to us and to others where “I end and you begin”.[1]

To me, setting boundaries simply means knowing my limits a.k.a. learning to say “no” to others, to plans, to activities, to anything, in order to benefit myself and my ability to develop meaningful relationships with others.

Now, boundaries can be physical, emotional, spiritual, etc., but I’m specifically talking about setting boundaries with others when it comes to commitment.

While I’m still a newbie to this, here’s how I set boundaries:

  1. Assess the situation – Instead of automatically agreeing, asking … Does this fit in my schedule? Is this something I want to do/attend?
  2. Ask myself what is best for me – Will this stress me out? I need to be aware of and respect my personal limits.
  3. Make a decision.
  4. Communicate my decision with emphasis on WHY I made it to the other person/group – honesty is key here!
  5. Move forward guilt-free.

I just made it sound easy, but this process takes time and effort. For me, the most important step I need to practice and put effort into is No. 4: communication.

Before learning about the importance of boundaries, I used to come up with not-exactly-true reasons why I couldn’t be somewhere for someone. For example, I’d say, “I don’t feel well. I’m out for tonight.” While that was kind of true (considering the guilt from bailing usually made me sick to my stomach), it often wasn’t the real reason.

With the help of therapy, I’ve learned that openness and honesty are key. Instead of making something up, I now do my best to speak the truth and communicate that to my family and friends. So, instead of “feeling sick” I’ll say, “I’m committed to another event tonight, so I’m unable to make this one,” OR “I’m worn out from the work week and am going to take some time to relax. Let’s reschedule for another time!

I communicate this in a calm and respectful manner, of course. And more often than not, my family and friends understand (if they don’t, then that’s a reason to assess that specific relationship in my life).

The hardest part in all of this for me? Learning that taking care of myself is NOT selfish.

Taking care of myself first allows me to be more present in life, and that alone benefits my relationships. It opens the line of communication, allows me to be 100 percent honest and 100 percent myself … Not only have I learned more about myself in this process, others have, too.

I truly believe that boundaries are essential to real, meaningful relationships.

You must set boundaries in your closest relationships so that you can feel accepted, heard and loved … Part of feeling connected to someone is allowing him or her to truly see youand what you’re all about.[2]

Boundaries have helped me to understand what true self-care is, how to love myself, and how to respect the boundaries that others need, too.

Now, I am still a serious work in progress over here – setting boundaries takes effort and does not happen overnight! I’m making it a priority to practice boundaries daily and it has benefitted me SO much so far. It’s helped me to stay true to myself and to the people in my life.

Do you struggle with setting boundaries? How do you plan to implement boundaries into your life, especially during the busy holiday season?

xoxo,

Lisa

Please note that I am not a mental health professional. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.


[1] https://www.csamsandiego.com/blog/2016/7/6/the-importance-of-boundaries

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-emotional-meter/201705/when-guilt-keeps-you-setting-boundaries