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  • Writer's pictureElana Vivian

Navigating New Year's Resolutions: The Intricate Dance of Change and the Nervous System

Many of us are sitting in the wake of our new years resolutions wondering - where did I go wrong?

It's only 2 weeks into the new year and already we are dropping back into old patterns. Patterns we were tired of, patterns that frustrate us and patterns that seem to plague us no matter how hard we try to run away.

The act of setting resolutions represents an opportunity to break free from the constraints of the past and shape a more fulfilling future. However, the psychology of resolutions is not a one-size-fits-all phenomenon; the success of our goals is often deeply intertwined with our ability to adapt to change and our neurotype.

The nervous system plays a crucial role in how we respond to change. When we set ambitious resolutions or encounter significant life shifts, our bodies may experience stress responses that trigger the sympathetic nervous system—the "fight or flight" (or freeze or fawn) mechanism. While this response is evolutionarily designed to protect us, frequent or prolonged activation can lead to heightened stress levels, anxiety, and even burnout.

It's important to understand the impact that change can have on our nervous system, especially if we are sensitive to change or already struggling with living in survival mode. So, what impact can change have on our body?

1. Increased Cortisol and Stress:

  • The hormone cortisol, released during stress, can disrupt the body's natural balance and contribute to various health issues.

  • Chronic stress may impede our ability to focus, make sound decisions, and maintain emotional well-being, hindering our resolution progress.

2. Exhausting Neuroplasticity:

  • Our brains possess remarkable neuroplasticity, allowing them to reorganize and adapt to new experiences.

  • Setting resolutions challenges the brain to form new neural pathways, fostering personal growth, but this process requires time and patience.

  • Starting too many new changes at once can exceed our brains capacity to learn new skills and result in "wasted" efforts

3. Embracing Change Gradually:

  • Sudden, drastic changes in habits or lifestyle can overwhelm the nervous system.

  • Gradual, sustainable adjustments to our resolutions may provide a more gentle and effective approach, promoting long-term success.

So, if you've "given up" on your resolutions this year, it's okay. It's actually expected! You didn't fail, your plan just wasn't right for you. So, let's try again. Let's give up on the resolutions and pick one small thing to change this week. I mean really small, smaller than you think!

Don't wait till Monday, or tomorrow, or for the clock to strike the hour. Start now and start small. That small change is much more likely to be here next year than trying to move mountains with sheer motivation for January of 2024.

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