How to: Relax in the New Year. Seriously. You can do it.

Five Ways to Blow Your New Year’s Resolution

Often, we associate New Year’s resolutions with drastic health or lifestyle changes that we feel determined to stick to in January – but weeks or months later, we burn out. Why? Because we try to bite off more than we can chew.

Today’s post is the last in our series about common mistakes that can lead to resolution burnout and tips that encourage long-term success.

It’s all been building to this. The capstone resolution: stress reduction.

In our world, stress has absolutely become the rule. And after reading about exercising, eating right, getting more sleep and finding a new hobby, you’re probably already thinking “Who in the world has time for all of that?”

For overall health and well-being, it’s vital to make time.

The key to reducing your stress level is prioritizing and cutting unnecessary anxieties and obligations. In reality, all of the resolutions we have discussed this week contribute to stress reduction in some form.

It’s lifestyle changes like exercise, better sleeping habits or a new hobby that will actually lead to a few less of those 4 a.m. ‘what did I forget to do today?!?’ panics.

So, as with all of our resolutions, successful stress reduction actually requires a plan you can manage, not just intense workout and eating regimens, or a general declaration that you’ll turn off your cell phone at 8 p.m., light a few aromatherapy candles and do yoga while listening to a soothing ‘Sounds of the Ocean’ CD.

In addition to resolutions, remember that it’s OK to say no.

In 2013, let’s all remember to give some time back to ourselves. Use it for exercise, reading, walking the dog or generally catching your breath. This decompression time can be incredibly restorative. It’s for your health.

The next time you get an e-mail asking you to organize a school bake sale or host a neighborhood party, breathe deeply and give legitimate consideration to the effect this will have on your stress level for the next few weeks. If you’re up for it then do it, but if you feel like this will take away from your productivity at work, your time with your family, your sleep or anything else, then realize that it’s OK to say ‘no thank you.’