Keeping New Years Resolutions without the Stress

Last updated: January 2017

New years always bring new resolutions, and those of us with migraine generally have at last one that involves taking better care of ourselves. We may resolve to exercise more frequently, maintain a more consistent sleep schedule, or cut out that trigger food we love but can’t tolerate. We may vow to think more positively or to see friends more often. We may promise to drink less alcohol or caffeine, increase our water intake, or to start meditating.

Regardless, our resolutions tend to revolve around doing better and being better. We want to bridge the gap between our current selves, our current lives and our ideals. This is a worthwhile goal, but it is important to remember one very real thing: The changes we make won’t do us much good if they bring added stress to our lives.

Stress is toxic. It hinders our ability to fight infections and viruses. It makes us gain weight and break out. It worsens symptoms of anxiety and depression, and it can cause our blood pressure to skyrocket. It also often increases the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks, which may undo whatever positive effects our resolutions might have.

To promote positive changes without the stress it is important that we go easy on ourselves. Remember, it takes approximately 66 days (or more than two months) to form a new habit. That means it’s unrealistic to expect to be perfectly adept at keeping our resolutions in January.

Make those resolutions, but know you’re going to slide back into unhealthier behaviors occasionally, maybe even frequently at first. Don’t let it stop you. If you resolve to hit the gym more and you do it every day for 12 days in a row, but then on January 13th can’t get out of bed, that’s okay. It’s okay if January 14th comes and goes without a workout too. Just restate your intention to yourself, and pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you’ve done so far. Then, get back to it.

The same goes for any other resolution you want to keep. Trying to cut out wheat? It’s okay if you ate sandwiches for three days in a row or purchased and drank a six-pack of Blue Moon beer. Want to go to bed around 10 p.m. every night? A handful of days of going to bed at midnight isn’t a big deal.

Habit formation takes time. Accept that, and don’t beat yourself up for perceived failings. You haven’t failed. You just aren’t all the way to a habit yet. It’s consistency, not perfection, that will render results.

By expecting setbacks and being gentle with yourself when they come, you can make positive changes without adding stress to your life. And that will ensure you reap the full benefits of your hard work.

Good luck! I wish you all a happy, healthy, and rewarding new year!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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