Christmas celebrations go hand in hand with New Year’s celebrations, and New Year’s celebrations go hand in hand with New Year’s resolutions! However, those amongst us that suffer from fibromyalgia may (quite rightly) feel that there is enough to cope with already, without the additional stress of setting further goals for the year ahead!
“Having something to work toward is good for us. It can give your life some structure, improve your self esteem, and, as you reach a goal, it’s actually therapeutic — you know that feeling of accomplishment? That comes from a release of norepinephrine in our brains, and most of us with FMS and ME/CFS don’t have enough of that particular neurotransmitter.”
Such advice is all well and good but, for many of us, one of the major challenges when it comes to New Year’s resolutions is actually keeping them!
We decided to explore why we so often fall at the first hurdle, and whether there is anything we can do to increase our chances of sticking to our goals for the year ahead.
Common pitfalls of failed resolutions:
Whilst many of us get off to a great start with our New Year’s resolutions, more often than not, we find our enthusiasm waning somewhere between mid-January and the start of February. Here’s why, according to some of the experts:
1. False hope syndrome
According to Professor of Psychology, Peter Hermman (and colleagues), “false hope syndrome” is characterized by: “unrealistic expectations about the likely speed, amount, ease, and consequences of self-change attempts.”
Just wanting to change your habits may not be enough in itself; a little forward planning and a lot of self-belief may also be required when it comes to achieving your goals.
2. Cause and effect
Sometimes we base our resolutions in a firm belief of the positive outcomes that will occur as a result. If the desired outcome doesn’t occur, our enthusiasm to persevere with the resolution may be lost. As Dr Avya Sharma, of the Canadian Obesity Network observes, failure to fulfill resolutions often occurs as: “people set unrealistic goals and expectations in their resolutions.”
So, when it comes to making any resolutions for the year ahead, we’ve taken some pointers from the team at About Health:
- Keep it simple
Rather than writing a long list of challenges for yourself over the coming year, why not think about one goal that you are more likely to be able to achieve;
- Be realistic
Don’t set yourself an unrealistic time frame, and do take into account the nature of your condition and the fact that your fatigue and enthusiasm levels may vary from day to day;
- Identify the potential hurdles
Identify any key barriers that may stand in the way of you achieving your goal, and consider how you may factor these in. Is this goal something that you have worked towards before and not managed to achieve? Are you able to pinpoint the reasons why and think of ways that you may overcome these hurdles?
- Take one step at a time
Break your overall goal down into smaller stages and remember to reward yourself at every step of the way. As an article in Psychology Today reminds us:
“Celebrate your success between milestones. Don’t wait the goal to be finally completed.”
If you have the occasional slip up don’t beat yourself up about it; assess the reasons why your resolve may have weakened and whether there is anything you can do to prevent this from happening again.
- Self assess your progress
Re-evaluate your overall goal at given stages. Be proud of the achievements that you have already accomplished and re-assess whether or not you are being realistic in your overall expectations.
Deciding upon a New Year’s resolution:
New Year’s resolutions can take a range of forms, but some of the most common ones you may recognize are:
- Giving up smoking
- Losing weight
- Taking up an exercise class
- Better money management
These are all worthy resolutions, but you may also consider thinking along a different set of lines. Reflecting on the past year, are there challenges that you avoided, and wished you had given a go? Have certain experiences led you to feel determined to tackle things in a different way? Are there new therapies that you read about and meant to try out, but never got around to?
Whilst the New Year is a wonderful opportunity for us all to think about something we would like to achieve in the coming year, it’s also a great time to remember the accomplishments that we have already made and continue to build upon. Living with fibromyalgia is no small task and it’s well worth reminding yourself, every now and then, about what a great job you have been doing: learning to cope with the difficulties of your illness from day to day is a huge achievement to be proud of.
Do you have any resolutions for the year ahead? Do you have a plan worked out to achieve you goal/s? We’d love to hear your tips and advice!
We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.