We often make New Year’s Resolutions at the stroke of midnight. We choose to improve things we’re unhappy with about ourselves. What we forget to think about is how stress affects whether or not we’ll actually follow through and stick with our resolutions for however long they’ll take to accomplish.
- We forget there are good (and bad) stressors that knock us off track.
Did you know there are two types of stressors: good and bad? Both cause an elevated spike in our stress-producing hormones: cortisol and adrenaline. We often forget that the good stressors can stress us out too. Even if we’re anticipating good stressors like: births, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, parties, and other celebrations…we can still end up feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the event. Our good intentions to follow-through on our resolution to exercise, lose weight, sleep more, eat healthy, invest money, etc., often are the first things to fall by the wayside.
- Stress is stress.
If our bodies have excess cortisol and adrenaline, then despite our best intentions, we find ourselves going back to old habits. Why? It’s easier, it feels safe, and our energy is going towards ridding our bodies of excess cortisol and adrenaline. It takes over 90 days for new behaviors to become automatic habits. When you’re resolving to do something new or different, concerted effort must be taken to think and then act on the new behaviors. If your motivation is down, then it becomes difficult to convince and hold yourself to carrying through with your new resolutions.
- We ignore our bodies’ warning signals…physically.
Fatigue, headaches, indigestion, migraines, weight gain, high blood pressure, clenched jaws, tight muscles, not being able to slow down/relax, and insomnia are signs of too much stress.
- We ignore our bodies’ warning signals…emotionally.
Feelings of being alone, overwhelmed, unsupported, anxious, ignored, unimportant, rushed, or angry means for:
Women—we do not have enough of our stress-producing hormone, oxytocin.
Men—we do not have enough of our stress-producing hormone, testosterone.
- We ignore our bodies’ warning signals…mentally.
We set ourselves up for failure when we heed the negative talk in our heads. Fogginess, confusion, and black and white/all-or-nothing thinking are signs that your brain is not working at peak capacity.
- When making your resolutions, plan around and anticipate that BIG life events (good stressors) will happen sometime during the year.
- Make your resolutions have specific start and end dates.
- Pencil in the dates on your calendar for the fun and happy events (good stressors) that you already know will occur.
- Plan down-time into your life, so you can off-set stress and replenish your stress-reducing hormones. You need to do stress-reducing activities daily to keep stress levels low.
- Sit down with your calendar, and write in your start and end dates for your resolutions.
- When you do have bad stressors happen—like accidents, deaths, illnesses—re-visit and re-define your new end date for your resolutions.
- Find someone who can keep you accountable. When you ask someone to help keep you on track—make sure they are willing to give you feedback. When you’re held accountable and have access to objective constructive criticism to what’s working and what’s not working is a great way to fireproof your resolution and ensure 100% commitment to accomplishing your goal(s).
Life happens. When we’re able to roll with the unexpected changes, then we can do things pro-actively to work with both kinds of stressors so our stress levels remain low and our motivation high. It’s when we forget to plan ahead for the contingencies that we lose motivation.