New Year, Same You

For decades, our culture has been focused on making some kind of “resolution” or change with the coming of the new calendar year. For some, this can be a helpful strategy to refocus and “get back on track.” But for others, it can add pressure to make unrealistic or unhealthy changes or become someone they are not. This year, in this world we are in right now, perhaps the answer is to take time to be and to appreciate who and what we are instead of what we are not.

Over the past two years, we have seen more changes than we can count. We have been asked to handle more stress than is typical or normal in many areas of our lives. Mental health research and treatment has taught that when a person is in a time of stress or trauma, making other life changes is unwise and more than they can handle. When stressed, we tend to fall back on well-worn habits and traits, as it is easier for us to do when we are expending mental and physical energy elsewhere. For example, someone who is grieving or dealing with a stressful life event probably should not seek other changes, such as a move or a new job. It can be much easier to cope with environmental stress and change when we are on a stable base.

So far, 2022 is beginning with a hope the pandemic will improve, and our lives will become more predictable. But stressors and variables we cannot predict and control remain, and this year likely will bring continued challenges and uncertainty.

Rather than make a list of “resolutions” you may or may not keep, why not make a list of strengths and survival skills? What have you learned over the past two years? What have you become great at? Even if it hasn’t been neat or pretty, you have made it, you have fought through so much adversity and unexpected change. We have all survived the last year or two by stepping back and relying on who we ARE, not who we want to become. As the hits keep coming (and let’s be real, they probably will), let’s thank the versions of ourselves that have brought us to this new year and, if we allow them to, will continue to carry us forward.

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