JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- Celebrating the beginning of a new year by making resolutions to change habits or correct behaviors such as quitting smoking, eating healthier, exercising more or saving money are common for people from all walks of life. For many, the motivation to continue toward these goals can slowly lessened, and many times, is gone within just a few short weeks.
Psychologists and mental health professionals at the behavioral health clinics at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, recognize that service members, spouses, retirees and dependents may sometimes struggle to maintain the positive motivation in order to achieve their goals and live happier lives.
“Typically when we have any change of habit that we want to work toward, we do it in a sense of awareness that something is bad for us, even though it feels good,” said U.S. Army Maj. Paul White, McDonald Army Health Center Behavioral Health psychologist and department deputy chief.
“However, when our minds feel threatened by something stressful, we revert to that thing that we know makes us feel good and takes away that stress, which would be some bad habit. So while we have every intention to stay on track and stay focused, it’s usually stress that causes us to sabotage our best laid plans,” he explained.
Though change is hard, keeping up with New Year’s resolutions can be made simpler by remembering these tips provided by the JBLE Behavioral Health clinics:
Remember the why – Remember how stress and negative feelings impact your cravings for bad habits such as smoking and overeating. Remember the reasons you wanted to make the particular change in your life.
Have a support system – Let coworkers, family and friends know of your goals so they can help keep you accountable. Talking with loved ones can also help distract when a craving arises.
Set short-term, SMART, goals – Setting goals that are specific, manageable, attainable or agreeable, realistic and trackable over smaller periods of time can help you see progress as you work toward long-term goals.
Distract yourself from temptation – When a craving for a cigarette, unhealthy snacks or spending unnecessary funds arises, do things to distract yourself such as eating healthy snacks, performing physical activity or talking to someone nearby.
Speak to a professional – when working toward a new goal, speak to a professional in that area of expertise such as a nutritionist, personal trainer or financial advisor. These experts may help you prepare for setbacks you might not foresee on your own.
Place goals in your daily view – Write your goals down and place them on a bathroom mirror, or next to your computer monitor at work to encourage and remind yourself of the goals you are working toward.
Though maintaining the motivation to keep working toward a goal may be difficult, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Casey Kalal, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron Behavioral Health flight chief, reminds those who are struggling, that slip-ups happen but not to let it discourage them.
“I tell people to never give up. It’s never too late to re-start because you don't want to lose the progress you’ve already made,” said Kalal. “People often deal with setbacks and fall back on their goals, but it is important they remember to be aware of how the setback made them feel, reevaluate why they wanted to make the change in the first place and regain that motivation to work toward that goal again.”
For more information, contact the Langley Behavioral Health Clinic at 764-6840 or Fort Eustis Behavioral Health Clinic at 314-7558.