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Eugene Therapy & Oregon Counseling is now in network with Providence Health Plan as of Jan 1, 2021.

You can find more information about our Insurance and Payment options on our website.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! We hope that you all had a restful holiday break. While we have entered a new year, we are still in the midst of many challenges due to the pandemic. There is still a lot that is out of our control at the moment. However, we hope that this issue provides you with useful tips on how you can set meaningful goals for yourself and prioritize your mental health throughout 2021. 

Looking to slow down a bit before diving into everything you have planned for 2021? Here's a simple 5 minute breathing practice from Elemental to help you stay healthy and hopeful through January.

In this issue:

Rethink Your New Year's Resolutions

The beginning of the new year marks a time that many people want to make changes through new year's resolutions. However, it can be really difficult for us to create and maintain new habits, even if they are meant to be positive. We are more likely to be successful at achieving our resolutions if we adjust our mindset towards them. 

Psychologist Elliot Berkman, PhD, from the University of Oregon studies motivational and cognitive factors that contribute to the success and failure of goals. His research has revealed a lot of insight into what makes new habits stick and what makes goals successful.

Here are three tips Berkman suggests that can help us rethink our new year's resolutions:

Ask Yourself "Why"

It may help to reevaluate your "why" or reasoning behind your resolutions. Sometimes we may make our resolutions and skip this step, not really stopping to consider exactly why we want to accomplish what we set out to do. Take some time to pause and think it through. The answer behind why we set certain resolutions can give us a better understanding about who we are and what motivates us. Knowing our "why" can reveal to us other things we aspire to accomplish too, that we may not have previously considered. 

Make Values-Based Resolutions

Resolutions that are rooted in our values tend to be much more motivating for us. Berkman explains how we are more likely to enact goal-directed behaviors if they are tied to our identity and our values. We have to want to create new habits and goals for ourselves in order for us to take actions towards them. If our goals matter to us and are tied back to what we find purposeful, we will be more motivated to achieve them. 

For example, the thought of implementing an exercise routine may not be necessarily valuable to you. But if you have a core value of family and are motivated to be in good health for them, you're more likely to be driven to keep a resolution tied to exercising. 

Start Small

Trying to make a big change all at once can be overwhelming. We're much more likely to abandon our goals if they are not SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. SMART goals are more effective because they allow us to break up larger goals into manageable smaller goals, that are more easily digestible.

Starting small may also mean that we may need to limit the number of resolutions we set and only take on one new thing at a time. It's great if there are many areas of our lives where we are seeking positive change. However, it may become overwhelming if we try to make many self-improvements all at once, thus spreading ourselves too thin. It's perfectly okay to choose just one goal at a time to focus on. Remember to listen to yourself and pay attention to what feels motivating versus what feels more like a burden. Though it may not always seem like it, even the smallest of changes can make a big difference. We can work towards our goals one small step at a time.

Other Helpful Articles

How to Set Mental Health Goals for 2021
Tips for Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions
Making Resolutions and Sticking to Them

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5 Tips to Make Your Goals Stick


You have reflected and thought through the goals you want to set for this year. Now how do you make sure you can actually implement them? Here's 5 tips that will help make your goals stick:

Stack Your Activities

One effective technique for implementing change is "stacking," which involves forming a new habit by bundling it with an existing behavior. For example, if you wanted to incorporate a short mindfulness/meditation routine into your mornings, you may pour yourself your usual coffee or tea and then meditate for five minutes while the drink cools, before drinking it. Since you already do that one action every day, like make your cup of coffee, the action can serve as a cue for the new habit to stick along with it.

Think Positively

If we think more positively about the changes we want to make, we're more likely to be motivated to go through with enacting our goals. This could be as simple as rephrasing the way we look at our resolutions. Instead of saying to ourselves, "I will quit __" or "I will avoid __," we can say, "I will start to do __." A 2017 study focused on the differences in goal mindset and found that 60% of those who embraced what the researchers call an “approach goal” succeeded, compared to 47% of those who had “avoidance goals.” Framing our resolutions towards positive outcomes are shown to be more successful.

Plan for Breaks

Recognize that road bumps may happen and expect them ahead of time. There will be days where we won't be as motivated to work on our goals, and that's okay. If we plan ahead to give ourselves permission and space to take breaks, we will feel okay with taking the necessary time to rest and relax before resuming our efforts towards our goals again. 

Keep a Journal

It may help us to better visualize and keep track of the changes we want to make if we are writing it all down. If you feel like this will be helpful for you, keeping a journal is a great way to hold yourself accountable for your progress with your goals. Having a journal can help us monitor how we are feeling about our goals, what we want to focus on next and how we can adjust our goals if we need to along the way.

Check-In With Yourself

We will find the most success with our resolutions if we are honest and kind to ourselves during the process. You could check in with yourself about your goals through a journal, but also by just setting time aside to reflect every day, week or month. Checking in with ourselves is an important part of pursuing our goals because it allows us to take a step back and really evaluate how we can best create positive change. 

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 How to Stay Motivated In the New Year 

It usually doesn't take long until people abandon their resolutions. Even if you follow the advice we gave above about rethinking your resolutions and are determined to stick with them, it can still be easy to "slip up." In fact, January 17th is the day known for new year's resolutions fizzling out. 

If you're finding that you're already having trouble staying motivated to keep up with your resolutions, here are our tips for getting back on track:

Get Your Friends or Family Involved

It may help to have a small amount of added pressure by telling our friends or family about our resolutions. When we put it out there and tell others about our goals, they will likely to check in and ask us about how they are going. Our friends or family can hold us accountable and encourage us throughout the process of creating new habits or accomplishing new goals. We can even enlist a friend or family member to make the same resolution as us, so that we have someone to go through the journey with.

Give Yourself Incentives

We aren't likely to feel motivated to accomplish things if we don't have some sense of satisfaction along the way. Once you get past certain milestones with your resolution, be sure to reward yourself for your hard work. Giving ourselves incentives here and there will reinforce that what we are doing is worthwhile.

Remember Why You Started

For the moments where you are seriously considering abandoning your goals, take a moment to pause and recall why you started what you're doing in the first place. Think back to what your values are and how your resolution will align with them. When we think back to exactly why we started the process in the first place, we are more likely to feel motivated to not give up.

Acknowledge That It's Okay to Have Setbacks

Striving for perfection will only be met with disappointments. Throughout the process, remind yourself that minor missteps and mistakes are perfectly okay and normal to experience. Release some of the pressure you are putting on yourself and recognize how far you have come. We will all have moments where things get tough, so we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves for it.

One Last Note from Eugene Therapy & Oregon Counseling 

After the past year we've had, it may feel difficult to focus on any kind of self-improvement right now. In fact, the very idea of devoting our time and energy to resolutions may leave us feeling more stressed or anxious. We are still going through a lot of changes and upsetting circumstances with the pandemic as well as social inequities and unrest. Simply doing what you need to do to get through the day is plenty right now. If you feel committed to making and implementing certain goals, that is great. But if you just need to take it all day by day, that is perfectly okay too. Choose whatever you think is best for your mental health. 

If you are feeling stuck and seeking change, but are unsure of where to start, you can request an appointment with one of our compassionate therapists today. 

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From the Blog

5 Healthy Boundaries to Set in 2021
Tips to Support Your Teen's Mental Health

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