By Ruth Kenzelmann
Each January, we promise ourselves that this is the year we will really follow through on those resolutions to improve areas of our life, from our health to our career to our personal relationships. But without clear goals, and steps in place to attain those goals, it can be difficult to successfully achieve meaningful, lasting changes in our busy and demanding lives.
One approach that can help us break out of the annual rut of broken resolutions is positive psychology, which focuses on using and cultivating the strengths, talents and virtues that enable individuals, families and communities to thrive. Incorporating positive psychology techniques in your daily routine can be an effective and valuable way to address feelings of stress or anxiety and stay committed to your goals of making healthy improvements in your life. These techniques can help us focus on things we can actively do every day to produce authentic happiness and cultivate wellbeing, leading to a better quality of life.
Stress, anxiety and other mental health challenges affect people from all walks of life regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic level. Positive psychology offers tools anyone can use to start improving their mental health and wellbeing today. It can help us expand our focus from clinical problems to cultivate feelings of well-being for a life filled with meaning, positive relationships and accomplishment.
Positive psychology offers strategies to help people manage life’s challenges, maintain a healthy outlook and recognize opportunities for enjoyment. These techniques are valuable tools that can promote mental health, increase resiliency and add balance to your life. Anyone can use positive psychology to help manage holiday-related stress and anxiety and stay on track toward personal goals by following these simple tips:
Unplug. Stay present, calm, and positive during this year’s holidays by building some “down time” into your day during which you switch off your mobile device, computer and television. Not only will this help you relax and recharge, but you will be able to better focus on the people and things around you.
Set realistic goals that fit your schedule and budget. This is a great time of year to take stock of your goals and accomplishments and create a step-by-step plan to help you achieve greater control and fulfillment in the year ahead.
Keep the momentum going! Stay inspired by keeping a daily account of your hard work and progress. Cross goals — large and small — off your list as you accomplish them. Develop a motto that inspires you and keeps you focused even after the glow of the holidays has faded to avoid backsliding into unhealthy habits. Something like, “I can do it” or “All great journeys start with one step”.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember there are people out there who are ready and available to help. People in San Diego County can call the 24-hour Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240 to get free, confidential support and referrals related to a variety of needs, including suicide prevention, crisis intervention, community resources, mental health referrals, and alcohol and drug support services. Anyone in San Diego County who needs help or is experiencing a crisis can call the Access and Crisis Line to immediately get assistance from a master’s level clinician, available in 150 languages through an interpreter service.
—Ruth Kenzelmann, Ph.D. is the executive director of Optum San Diego, which partners with San Diego County to help the region’s 425,000 Medicaid members find mental health and substance abuse services. If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the San Diego County Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240.