Psychotherapist suggests New Year resolutions

PSYCHOTHERAPIST Noel McDermott looks at the rollercoaster of the last few years and the forthcoming transition from 2021 to 2222.

He believes next year will offer a more stable and predictable future as fear of Covid-19 variants reduces and we manage the current situation. Here’s some psychological resolutions for the nation that will help improve our mental health and wellbeing for 2022. 

Stop panicking over the pandemicking

The way to predict the future is to look at the near past, over the past three years we have managed and overcome this situation and we will continue to do so in the future. As a society we work extraordinarily well to survive and thrive through challenge and human society is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Have belief and faith in the future, it’s easier to avoid stressful and frightening events but in fact there is a lot of personal growth available through overcoming struggle and adversity. Celebrate your resilience and connection to loved ones, family, and friends.

Live more in the moment

Don’t get caught up in events that have not yet occurred, it is too easy to forget to enjoy what you have right now. Live in the here and now, focus your mind and make decisions about what you choose to dwell on. Being mindful about what you nurture in your own mind is one of the greatest tools for wellbeing that there is.

Own your personal power

We all have the personal power to decide how we respond emotionally to life events but often we forget that and give away our personal power to events that really don’t matter. We have within us the capacity to act from internal child, adult, or parent. The child is our capacity to be emotional, spontaneous, creative; the adult is our capacity to see reality as it is and learn from it and the parent is our capacity to make even difficult choices that are for the greater good. Over the coming year look at which aspect of self-functioning you choose to use for which aspect of life events is most appropriate and engage with your whole self.

Don’t rely on motivation alone

If you genuinely want to change something in the New Year, then relying on motivation is a good way to ensure it doesn’t happen. Motivation is an emotion that can come and go, like any emotion it tends to be useful for short term gain in difficult tasks, like finishing a race. To genuinely change you need to develop habit.

Habit forming behaviours

In general, in life if we do things out of habit rather than through conscious choice or motivation it is more likely that it will happen. That is because of what is happening in our brains. If we repeatedly do an action, it forms neural pathways. Anything repeated is viewed by the brain as important and it therefore automates it by building neural pathways. If you keep a new behaviour in place for three months, it will be a habit.

Start small 

To make change we need to start small. It sounds simple but it’s the biggest mistake people make in terms of change. Let’s say you set yourself the goal of becoming fit next year, that’s too big, you will quickly lose your way. It’s better to set yourself the goal of being more active in your daily life by walking more till you build up to for example 10,000 steps a day. After you have mastered that goal, set a new one such as joining a class in yoga or at your local gym.

 Hold yourself accountable

If you really want to achieve something you will find a way to make yourself accountable for achieving it. The most effective way to be held accountable is peer pressure, so if you want to lose weight, then join a group of people trying to achieve that, if you want to run the marathon, then join a running group. Other things in a similar vein that achieve accountability are the use of apps that we update, especially those that are connected to a group. We are rewarded for what we achieve in this approach, the weight loss group clap us and cheer us on, the other runners in the group give us positive feedback, the social activity in itself rewards us.

Noel advises: “Set realistic achievable goals, don’t rely on motivation but put it in your diary, get support from others to achieve goals where you can, or use other tools such as apps, build from small change to bigger change, keep going until it becomes habit and once you have mastered one habit add the next on to lead to your bigger goal.”

He is a psychotherapist with over 25 years’ experience in health, social care, and education. He has created unique, mental health services in the independent sector. Noel’s company offers at-home mental health care and will source, identify and co-ordinate personalised care teams for the individual. It has recently launched a range of online therapy resources to help clients access help without leaving home – www.noelcdermott.net