I’ve been learning some more about depression and anxiety lately, and a symptom that resonates with me is the tendency toward “extremes.” For example, when you do one thing wrong you immediately begin thinking, “I’m a failure, I always let everyone down” or if you have a conflict in a relationship concluding, “This relationship is terrible.”
Because of these extreme responses, depression-sufferers are prone to feeling easily overwhelmed and helpless because problems in ourselves or in life seem to big to surmount. An all-encompassing feeling of failure just isn’t possible to beat. It’s too vague and big and powerful. It makes us paralyzed and can make us difficult to confront (the loved ones in our lives are scared of making us feel worse about ourselves), and procrastinators when it comes to life situations.
When I began learning about these symptoms of depression it was like a light came on. I suddenly began to see my responses to life in a new light. I honestly never thought it was a symptom of something or that other people may struggle with the same thing, because I literally believed how I felt about myself was true.
This knowledge helps me be a little more objective in my extreme responses — to be able to separate myself enough to say, “I’m feeling like a failure right now even though I really just did this one thing wrong,” and to be more open to correction. It’s helping me begin to focus on the issue at hand instead of slipping under the tide of helplessness.
I’ve found that setting and reaching small goals has been very helpful in keeping the helpless feelings at bay. And so I want to apply all of this to New Year’s resolutions. I decided to pick several areas of my life where I’m prone to feeling like a failure (or at least feeling like I’m not doing enough) and choose very practical goals to work towards.
Please don’t be overwhelmed or impressed when you see my list (yep, there’s 10 goals). Please don’t feel like my goals need to be your goals. I’m just tired of never setting any goals for myself because I don’t want to feel like a failure. 2014 isn’t going to be the year of “the new Julie.” It’s just going to hopefully be a year of me growing in small ways in a few areas of my life.
I know blogging about New Year’s resolutions isn’t going to help one bit in achieving them, so I made a plan. Here it is:
1. Make specific action points for my goals (since you want practical, I’ve included a few below)
2. Print out the list
3. Tape it in my notebook (notebook is pictured above, a scratch pad I sit with in my morning quiet time. I write the day’s date across the top and any thoughts swirling in my mind while I’m trying to read a Psalm. I also write a to-do list for that day and mark which items are priorities, write items for prayer, people I need to text, etc, etc). By sticking my resolutions in my notebook I can both remember them and work them into my daily to-do list.
4. Show a friend the list and see if we can sit (maybe every couple months?) and check in about how things are going (for me personally it’s helpful if this friend knows about my struggle with depression so she can speak truth to me when I’m reaching/not reaching my goals). [Side note: I’m choosing someone who’s not my spouse/family member in case you were wondering].
My 2014 goals, in no particular order.
Exercise 3-4 times a week.
– P90X-3 with David in the evenings
Go to bed earlier (by 10 pm) and wake up earlier (by 6 am).
– Take my anxiety/sleeping meds by 8:45 pm
Take better photos.
– Post daily photo on the blog for January
Become a better cook.
– Make gluten-free all-purpose flour blend and learn to do more GF baking (pancakes, muffins, bread) that people actually want to eat
4. My kids:
Praise more times a day than I correct.
– List positive things/gifts/growth I see in my daily notebook, make a point to mention those things to the kids throughout the day
5. My husband and my friends:
Interrupt less. Listen well in conversation instead of trying to figure out what I’m going to say next.
– Ask David to tell me when I interrupt him
– Pray that I will be mindful of interrupting people, and when I’m not being a real listener
Take ownership of our monthly budget so it’s not on David’s shoulders to remind me
– Consistently enter all expenses into our budget app (we use Goodbudget)
– Stick to budgeted amounts (especially in the areas of Groceries and Home!!!)
Start co-leading in our Life group
– Email John for study packet
Meet with a mentor/counselor
– I’m doing this by phone twice a month with a church-planting wife from our denomination
Spend more time outside.
9. Spiritual life:
Pray for five minutes each morning before the kids wake up
– Set iPhone timer for five minutes before my morning quiet time
10. Social media and screen time:
Spend less time on my phone and laptop.
– Check email twice a day and set a timer for internet time (keep laptop in the guest room)
– Keep my phone in my bedroom (don’t check messages while homeschooling)