Statistics show that this time of the year, 45 percent of us are going to make a New Year’s resolution, but of that percentage, only 26 percent will maintain our resolution past the first six months. It seems as though the odds are stacked against most of us when it comes to changing our ways and making major life changes, but Sue McKenzie, co-director of Rogers InHealth, insists that achieving lasting change is possible not only for New Year’s resolutions, but for achieving mental health as well.
“We have to spend some time honoring our good reasons for our bad habits, which may sound a little peculiar, but what happens if we don’t do that is we can fall back into our old tendencies. We can make a change and maintain it for a short time, but the minute we have a problem with that change, we are going to go back to our bad habits,” says McKenzie.
If we do take the time to make these acknowledgements, the effects can be life-changing. McKenzie says, “When we do acknowledge our good reasons for our bad habits, we can gradually begin to move into making the change we want to make and get serious about how we’re going to maintain that change over a lifetime.”
The hardest part may be deciding to seek treatment and end our unhealthy habits which may stem from an eating disorder, addiction or other mental health concern. “Most of us are either on the fence about a change or are working hard to maintain it,” says McKenzie.
So what can we do to help ensure that our changes will last? “There’s two things to remember that we can all do in our lives,” McKenzie says, “Have people that you trust and respect that you can check in with every once in a while. Typically, someone who knows and loves you can see that something problematic is going on before you even do. The person you check-in with could offer a simple adjustment that allows you to have a better quality of life.”
The second tip McKenzie has is: “If you’re the person that sees a harmful tendency in someone that you love and trust, be a gentle, nonjudgmental mirror. Meaning, have a conversation with that person and try saying, ‘I’ve noticed things are different for you lately and I want you to have more joy in your life, can we talk about it?’”
The team at Rogers has seen the benefits of family members helping a patient identify an issue, McKenzie says.
“We know that a family’s unconditional support and willingness to talk about a problem can be a key part of making the decision to seek professional help. Families can also provide a source of hope and a unique perspective on their loved one’s life, knowing that their life could be a lot better.”