DE-STRESS to Combat those Annoying New Year's Resolutions:

We all dread that time of year when the date changes from one year to the next and society puts pressure on us to identify and execute our New Year’s Resolutions. What will I do this year? What will I accomplish? What will be different? What will be exciting? How will I change? Yikes!  

​Why is this so hard? Well, normally this is because the reinforcement we are aiming for, or expect, is delayed, making the response effort to accomplish these huge goals too hard. Why do we continue to do this to ourselves?

The good news is that by applying some simple strategies and setting realistic, smaller goals, we can begin to see the change we were looking for! Self-management has long been identified as a hard skill to master, but one that is strongly associated with personal and career success. Below is a quick acronym to help you remember a few quick and easy changes you can make to kick off some self-management in 2018: DE-STRESS!

D: Date for Change-Identify when you are going to make this change or engage in this new behavior and write it down in your calendar to contract with yourself to kick it off! Consider NOT starting Jan 1! Why not today?
E: Elicit Help-Despite being called “SELF-management,” you should know that assigning someone to help you remain accountable to your goal and your self-management plan is appropriate and can be very effective! Choose wisely! Who truly motivates you? 
S: Set Rules-If you are trying to decrease a behavior, contract with yourself that you will only do it at X time of day or in X location to slowly eliminate opportunities to keep this behavior lingering around (ex. If I’m going to complain about my wife, I’m going to only do it in my whining chair!).
T: Time Block-If you are going to start adding a new behavior into your routine, proactively block off times during your day, week, or month in which you will do just that! Now, PROTECT that time! If you had an important meeting, you wouldn’t move it around for other things, right? Why is your personal health, happiness, and goals any different?!
R: Record-Yep, this means you self-monitor and self-record if you engage in the behavior you are trying to change. This could be recording each time you bite your nails or keeping a food journal. When you know you need to record, you may find you change your behavior unless you want to lie to yourself…but YOU KNOW!
E: Extra Cues-Leave yourself a note, or put a picture up of your activity, wish, or goal. This will serve as a daily reminder for you to make a change. 
S: Start the Chain-Kick off your change by starting the first step that would get you going in the right direction to create some momentum. Perhaps you want to be more organized and you start by ordering your new materials to do such. Maybe you want to diet and you begin by doing Sunday meal prep for easy lunch packing during the busy weeks. If you want to experience 4 new things in 2018, then book them NOW. Whatever it is, start it! 
S: Situation/Environment Change-Make the response more or less likely by changing your environment!  If you don’t want to eat sweets, don’t have them in the house. If you want to stop biting your nails, get a manicure or buy some new fancy winter gloves to wear while you drive. 
Not all of these may be needed to make a change, but pick one and try! Here’s to a happy end of 2017 and to a great 2018-Cheers!
Kim Heald, M.S. Ed, BCBA
Clinical Director/Owner

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