So, Let's Reset. How about creating resolutions that focus on improving your mental wellbeing this year?
New Year’s resolutions can give us goals, purpose and ambition. Many of them are positive, involving healthy choices for mind and body; the most common are going to the gym more, quitting smoking and saving money. However, according to the Mental Health Organisation, out of the millions who create resolutions, a whopping 80% of people fail to stick to them within the first few months. This failure can harm mental wellbeing, as people punish themselves for not living up to their own extremely high expectations. What starts as a positive goal can quickly become a source of guilt.
We aren’t saying don’t go to the gym (sorry), but instead of fitness goals that make you feel bad about your progress- lose two stone or fit into those size 8 jeans I wore 5 years ago- choose achievable, sustainable goals. Frame them differently. Aiming to exercise regularly or go on more walks are resolutions without pressure, making them easier to stick to. Exercising releases endorphins in the brain that make us feel good and can significantly improve mental wellbeing. So by all means exercise! But don’t focus on the scales, focus on your smile.
Another good resolution is to make time for self care. Daily or weekly, set aside an hour or so to unwind. Do something that you find relaxing and that you know will bring you happiness. Put on a face-mask, play football, have a long bath, read a book, write a diary entry, see friends- anything that reduces stress and brings you happiness. You could take up meditating or practising mindfulness. Take time to just breathe in and out. Indulge in your passions and take stock of everything in life you are grateful for.
Another resolution that could boost wellbeing is to reduce time spent on social media. Luckily for Iphone users, our phones now tell us how much screen-time we have used in a week- it is often horrifying! Whilst social media can be an incredible tool and place to create community, it can also be isolating. Many people admit to feeling down when using social media as they compare themselves to others. We forget that no one's life is that perfect. Enviously scrolling through a thread of rose-tinted holiday pictures of your neighbour in the Maldives with her chiselled husband, is a waste of time. Reducing aimless scrolling could improve mental wellbeing and help you use time more effectively.
Perhaps you could decide to dedicate more time to other people in 2020. Helping others, whether that be friends, family, or people in need, can improve our own wellbeing. You may decide to train for a charity run, donate your old clothes or volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Or you could reduce your waste or single-use plastics. Thinking about causes bigger than your own life can give you some much-needed perspective and a self-esteem boost!
The most important resolution you could make is to seek help if you need it. Talk to someone if you’re struggling. Listen to friends if they need you. Support each other. It could be the New Year’s resolution that changes your life.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself. If you stick to your New Year's resolutions, congratulations! If you don't, so what? You are good enough just as you are.
By Grace Proctor