By Kelly Graham, MSW, RSW
We always hear that saying, “new year, new me!”. Often people make New Year’s resolutions, and they end up not keeping them. Many of these resolutions fail for a number of different reasons like being too busy, realizing the goal is harder to reach than first anticipated, or simply not caring about achieving the goal anymore. So how do you make goals and keep them? Well, you have to make sure you pick the right goal and follow strategies that will help you reach this.
What is the right goal? Your goal must be something that you want to accomplish — not something that other people say you should do. To be able to put in the work needed to reach your goal, you must have the connection and drive to want to attain it. This goal also must be attainable. Don’t pick a goal that is near impossible to reach. Don’t expect to lose 50 pounds in one week, or instantly change all of your habits overnight. Pick a goal that you believe you can reach with hard work and dedication. Once you start working towards this goal, you may need to adjust it. You may realize that it is harder to reach than first anticipated, or you may have reached it easily, and now need to increase the goal. Make sure that you know what you are going to need to do to achieve your goal. If it’s losing weight, then that will involve eating healthier and exercising. If you aren’t ready to do this, then pick a different goal where you know you will want to, and be prepared to, put in the work.
When making your goal, make sure that it is designed for you, and not based off of somebody else’s goal. We are all different, and therefore our goals should be too. Just because some people can quit smoking without any help, doesn’t mean that may be the case for you. Goals should be specifically made to help better us and to help give us something attainable to strive to reach. If your goal is not realistic, then you will feel discouraged and give up. However, if you know you can accomplish it, then it can give you a sense of happiness and success when you finally do.
By Marianne Wylie, MSW, RSW
It is that time of year! For many people the Holidays season is a time of joy, fun and laughter filled with family gatherings, lots of holiday foods, and celebrations. While many people are looking forward to the holidays, for others, it can be a difficult time where family conflicts and feelings of loneliness arise, or depression and anxiety symptoms worsen. All of these situations can make people vulnerable for relapse on their substance use goals.
This time of year, I often have people who are attending counselling express concern for managing their substance use goals over the holidays or they come back in the new year feeling low about having used/drunk. I wanted to share with you some helpful coping strategies to effectively cope with holiday stresses to prevent relapse on your substance use goals. (Goals can include harm reduction goals like reduced use and abstinence). Preplanning how you will cope with difficult situations or cravings is a key aspect of increasing success over the holidays.
By Kelly Graham, MSW, RSW
While many of us love our family, sometimes spending a lot of time with them during the holidays can be stressful. Not only do you have the stress of trying to cook, clean, decorate, buy presents, etc., but then you have to try to be happy and cheerful and interact with your family. Don’t feel guilty; it happens to the best of us. We are already stressed with everything extra the holidays throw at us, but then we have to try and hide the stress and make sure everyone is having a good time. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy.
During the holidays you have the pressure to buy the perfect gift, cook the perfect meal, have the best decorations, and you have the stress of having to afford it all. We have the pressure of trying to follow tradition and make every holiday as good as, or better than the last. We just have to accept that fact that we can’t make the turkey exactly the way grandma did; and that’s ok. This also all happens during cold and flu season, so many of us are functioning at less than 100% because we are sick or trying to fight it off.
If you don’t spend a lot of time with your family, or certain members, the holidays are a time when you are all forced to come together and celebrate. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but there may be a certain reason you don’t see them that often. They could be a toxic influence in your life, there may be unresolved problems between you two, or you just don’t seem to get along. While every family is unique, there are many times when there is family drama happening. The holidays are either a great place for this drama to come out or where everyone tries to ignore it and put on a happy face. Either one can be stressful. Even if there’s not drama, having that one relative that keeps asking when you’re going to get married, or have babies, or get a real job can be annoying and stressful.
By Kristen Sohlman, HBA, RP
For some, Halloween is a time to enjoy the colours of the Fall season, to feel the joy of dressing up, to go trick or treating, and to get to know your neighbours and community in a different way! Some mental health professionals believe that Halloween is an opportunity for creativity and for children to safely explore any possible feelings of fear connected to scary things safely with friends and family. But what can you do when Halloween is over, and your fears turn out to be more than scares of a holiday season?
The type of fear I am referring to is not the fear from an actual scary situation, but an irrational fear that seems to rule your thinking, that can negatively affect your ability to cope with life’s experiences, and prevents you from living a productive, healthy, and growth-enhancing life. Fears can present themselves in a variety of packages including fears of places, animals, objects, people, events, atmosphere, family members, disasters, illness, public speaking, authority, or the unknown. The difficulty with fear is that it can immobilize you, prevent you from trusting others, prevent you from letting go or changing, can make you resistant, can stifle your motivation, keeps you locked in self-destructive behaviour, and prevents you from believing in yourself!
By Elizabeth Perzan, MSW, RSW
Valentine’s Day does not have to be a reminder of your single relationship status, or the fact that your partner cannot be with you this February 14th.
Being solo on Valentine’s Day can actually be empowering! Use today as a reminder that there are many advantages to being single or unaccompanied. For example, think of all the money you will save. And you are free from the awkward, mandatory gift exchange (heart-shaped jewellery that no one ever wears?).
You are granted the right to celebrate this day the way you want. Think of today as an opportunity to practice some much needed self-care. You can go to the gym, have a sauna, or enjoy a good book while embracing a warm cup of coffee or tea. Spend some time with a friend or family. You can even control what you want to binge-watch on Netflix. Maybe even babysit for another couple; give them a chance to have a special night to themselves.
Spending Valentine’s Day by yourself can be less stressful in general. You don’t have to worry about the “perfect” date, and there will be no disappointment if said date doesn’t go according to plan. Not to mention skipping out on the crowds and chaos, as well as zero pressure to dress up (pajamas at 6:30pm?Here I come). And don’t forget! No judgement when you purchase that V-Day sale candy (added bonus – you don’t have to share).
Bottom line: let today inspire you to learn to be happy with yourself, no matter your relationship status. Valentine's Day is a made-up holiday anyways. YOU are all that you really need.
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This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide personal support as an alternative to psychotherapy services. Please note that replies are viewable by the public, and we may take a few days to respond. If you require immediate assistance, please call us during business hours.