It’s that time of year again: when we start to think about New Year resolutions and the promises we make ourselves about how to improve and enrich our lives.
It may seem like a rite of passage for many of us as another year draws to a close, but why do we wait until the new year to make resolutions when it comes to bettering ourselves, our mental health and wellbeing?
There are a couple of reasons – habit, peer pressure or an attempt to give new meaning, hope and optimism to our lives.
Few would argue that it usually has something to do with reflecting on the last 12 months and seeing new opportunities for change. It’s that sense of newness that appeals: being able to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start.
We might decide we’ll be nicer to friends, parents, partners or colleagues or that we’ll take out a new gym membership, lose weight, change jobs, move house, start dating or go travelling.
Resolutions can be linked to a sense of dissatisfaction, low self-esteem or unhappiness with ourselves and a feeling that we need to “improve”, while pinning our hopes on a set of resolutions. Yet common-sense tells us most of us don’t stick to them, with studies showing that 80 per cent of people had dropped their resolutions by mid-February.
Other findings show that if we make resolutions earlier in the year – some say March, others say November is fine – we’re more likely to stick to them because we have a clear action plan in place. And that makes sense. We are putting far less pressure on ourselves if we set daily, weekly or monthly goals. These don’t need to be major goals or objectives, in fact small and positive works better are better – ones that are all about being kind to ourselves. It’s also worth remembering that it’s okay to ask for support from friends, family, partners and loved ones.
Create an action plan
If you’re not sure about what you would want to include in your action plan, think about what have been the achievements or experiences that have brought you joy or satisfaction in previous years.
You may be feeling tired and stressed if you are working full-time while also running a household, and you would love nothing more than some ‘me’ time. Your action plan could be to find anything from 20 minutes to an hour a day that you can devote entirely to yourself – no matter what – like listening to free meditation app or setting aside half an hour to write a gratitude journal or go for a walk. In making any resolutions work long-term, time management will be something to keep a handle on.
When it comes to our mental health and wellbeing, it is a good idea to bear in mind that the festive season and New Year is a time that can trigger mental health issues such as loneliness, anxiety and depression for a variety of reasons, ranging from financial stress to family conflict or the breakup of a close personal relationship. This is another reason why New Year resolutions can be counterproductive.
If you are feeling depressed, anxious or feel you lack the confidence to see through any resolutions around your wellbeing or mental health, perhaps what you need most at this time is the help of a trained professional counsellor who can guide you through any issues you are facing. Booking to see a counsellor could be a positive step towards wellness and good mental health in 2021.
Remember that resolutions can be a force for good when you set yourself realistic and achievable goals. If along the way towards achieving those goals you slip up, don’t worry. There is always a new day to start again.
If you would like to speak to a counsellor about your mental health or making a change to your wellbeing please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 364 277.