New Year's Resolutions - good or bad for mental health?

We’ve all been here before. We’ve got the motivation and optimism that comes with a fresh year and we set ourselves a new, exciting goal. We’ve got our eyes on a result that’s challenging, specific and measurable and nothing else will do - whether that’s losing 10kg or exercising daily. We’ve got this, no doubt.

We’ve also got that dopamine hit that comes when we’re hopeful. It improves our mood, boosts our happiness and enables us to feel even more motivated, energetic and productive. We suddenly question why we don’t always prioritise ourself and our health in this way!

We fly though week one, week two…it’s seems so easy. But more often than not within a few weeks, we ‘fail’. We fall off the wagon once or twice – having a bar of chocolate or missing a day’s exercise and decide it’s all over – we can’t hit the target we set ourselves so we just give up and go back to our old patterns and behaviours – mission not accomplished.

We’re left feeling a little guilty, disappointed, and with a tinge of self-loathing—a far cry from the strong sense of confidence and empowerment we had just a few weeks before.

How did this happen?

Well, by creating all or nothing resolutions that are all about ‘achievement’ or ‘results’ – we leave out the flexibility, balance and a sense of self-love that are essential for anything in life to be truly sustainable.

So, what’s the answer?

Well, we can still set ourselves exciting goals, we can still use the new year as a catalyst for change – an opportunity to have fresh momentum, new focus, increased accountability.

But what if we re-framed it? What if we didn’t make it all about an achievement, success, failure, black and white?

What if instead it’s about a feeling or vision of ourselves we want to create, a personal and purposeful movement or a new more helpful outlook to life? What if that vision provided the direction for bitesize, achievable everyday actions that move us towards what we want, consistently?

What we’ll create is something that’s got balance and flexibility, space for life to get in the way sometimes and self-compassion – all built in. But we’ll also have action and accountability day to day to keep us on track, with the big vision inspiring us throughout.

Okay, so what could that look like?

Here’s a quick example of what this could look like, to give you personal inspiration ahead of 2021.

Big vision/feeling for 2021:

‘To become calmer, take life at a slower pace and prioritise my health’

Practical day to day actions:

o Develop a consistent sleep routine, wherever possible

o Set aside 30 minutes daily for relaxation and self-care

o Move my body whenever it feels good to do

o Consciously unplug from technology that isn’t serving me

Wishing you all a healthy and happy New Year!

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