New Year’s Resolutions and Complex PTSD Don’t Mix

January 4, 2019 Traci Powell

Do you live with complex PTSD and want to make resolutions you can stick to? Here's one resolution that won't make you feel bad about yourself at HealthyPlace.

How does complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) interact with making new year resolutions? Society pressures us to make grand commitments for the new year related to how we will improve, maybe even completely change, our lives. Now don’t get me wrong, I think improving your life is a great thing, but the problem is, when you have complex PTSD, failing to commit to a New Year’s resolution can result in your year beginning with shame and depression.

This is the first year I will not be making any resolutions. Yes, I need to lose weight. Yes, I want to work out more, clean my house consistently and walk my dog several times a day. These are all things I’ve resolved year after year in the past. I’d built myself up in my head in January, fully believing I’d reach my goals, but usually, by the beginning of February, I find myself slipping into a deep depression because I was already failing.

Avoid Unrealistic Resolutions to Help Complex PTSD

When you live with complex PTSD, you have a built-in inner voice that loves to be critical of you. That voice feeds into feelings of shame. As shame grows, depression follows and slowly you can slip back into isolation, believing you are worthless and should disconnect from the world. 

Fighting that inner critic is a daily challenge in managing complex PTSD. When you make New Year’s resolutions that are difficult to achieve, you set yourself up to feed the inner critic if you fail at your commitment to yourself. In the end, not only was making a New Year’s resolution not helpful, it could actually be harmful to your mental health. 

Resolve to Take Care of Your Complex PTSD

As this new year begins, instead of making bold statements about life changes you hope to make for 2019, consider just resolving to be compassionate with yourself. 

Weight loss has been a New Year’s resolution for me for many years. Every year on January 1, I buy the right foods, map out my weight loss and exercise plan, and know it will be the year I finally do it. Usually, within about a week, I fail miserably and endlessly beat myself up over it. This past year, however, I’ve come to understand that my weight is protective for me and the underlying reasons that caused my weight gain to begin with. 

The truth is, I was never going to be successful at losing weight until I understood all the things that not only led to my weight gain but also cause me to sabotage myself when I do start to lose. Having the clock strike midnight on January 1 wasn’t suddenly going to make it all go away. I need to continue working on those things.

So, this year, no resolutions for me. Only a commitment to myself to take things one day at a time, doing my best along the way and fighting the inner critic that wants to call me a failure. 

I hope you will do the same. Avoid making decisions that will only end up feeding the inner critic. Instead, make realistic goals that will help you heal and live with your complex PTSD. Be nicer to yourself, use the word “no” more often if you overcommit, and have realistic expectations for your self to start your new year off right.

APA Reference
Powell, T. (2019, January 4). New Year’s Resolutions and Complex PTSD Don’t Mix, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Traci Powell

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January, 4 2019 at 9:55 pm

I needed to hear this! That critical voice in my head loves to show up around january first. Feels good to know I’m not alone!

January, 10 2019 at 2:17 pm

So tired of the ptsd and annoying dreams that interrupt the beginning of my morning, deaths of my sister continues to haunt me ?

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