Mindful Resolutions

According to a 2014 study analyzing the custom of making New Year’s resolutions, approximately 45 percent of Americans declare annual intentions, however only 8 percent achieve them. To increase resolution success rates in 2015, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment recommends mindfulness to help ease the burden of change.

Regardless of the goal—from losing weight to getting organized to saving money—an effective way to break bad habits is to form good habits incompatible with the behaviors people want to change, and stick with it. The reward may not be apparent at first as it can take several months on average to form a new habit through repetition.

“When a person is mindful and makes a concerted effort to ‘stick with it’ eventually new connections to the brain’s reward center will form. When this happens, the new behavior becomes easier and easier, and as a result the person has a healthier habit to replace a less desirable one,” explains Dr. John Larson, Medical Director, Gateway Treatment Centers.

How can mindfulness improve resolution success?

Mindfulness is a mind-body technique involving awareness of breath, which induces the relaxation response–a physiological response in which blood pressure drops, heart rate slows and stress hormone levels decrease. With a little guidance and practice, mindfulness can help de-program conditioned responses, which can undermine self-awareness and personal growth.

To keep New Year’s resolutions in 2015 and beyond, try these simple tips that promote mindfulness:

  • Sit on it, then commit. People tend to stick to goals that are in line with their core values. So take time to reflect and prioritize before penning resolutions on paper.
  • Celebrate progress. From the start, create a game plan for each goal and determine milestones. Prominently display a calendar to tracks all events and activities related to resolutions, including milestones and rewards to encourage the “stick with it” factor.
  • Roost with birds of a feather. To benefit from positive influences of others, seek out people or frequent places with others likely to share similar goals. Join a running club or meet ups, explore yoga studios (many offer free community classes), volunteer for local charity groups, join a professional networking group, take class at park district, etc.
  • Visual affirmation. Visual prompts keep help what matters most front and center. Post pictures and inspiring notes in car, office and throughout home.

This article was contributed by Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers provide substance abuse treatment services for adults and adolescents at drug treatment centers throughout Illinois and the St. Louis Metro East area.