Wellbeing and New Year’s Resolutions: A Balanced Approach

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As the year ends and a new one begins, many of us participate in the age-old tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions. But do we understand why we set these goals and the effects they can have on our mental health?

Read on if you’re ready to approach your New Year’s resolutions with a balanced perspective.

The Psychology Behind New Year’s Resolutions

Have you ever wondered why New Year’s resolutions are deeply ingrained in our culture? The answer lies in the psychological concept of the ‘fresh start effect’. This principle suggests that we are more inclined to embrace new behaviours and habits during significant times, such as the dawn of a new year.

The allure of a clean slate and the promise of a new beginning can be incredibly enticing. However, this often leads to high aspirations that can carry a weighty burden. While it’s a charming idea to wipe the slate clean and start anew, it’s crucial to recognise the potential for self-inflicted pressure and dissatisfaction when these ambitious goals remain unfulfilled.

New Year’s resolutions can be a double-edged sword, bringing about a sense of hope and renewal and fostering a climate of unrealistic expectations and undue pressure.

The Pressure of High Expectations

Embarking on a journey of high expectations with our New Year’s resolutions can unintentionally breed a harmful cycle of idealistic aspirations followed by inevitable let-downs. More often than not, these sky-high hopes lead to us setting ourselves up for an unwelcome downfall.

The self-inflicted strain to reach the lofty heights of our new year goals can result in unnecessary stress and anxiety, disrupting our mental harmony. While it’s commendable to aim for the stars, we must also remind ourselves that falling short of our goals does not equate to failure.

Setting resolutions isn’t about striving for perfection but nurturing personal growth, no matter how small. Remember, setting your sights high is completely fine. Still, being gentle with yourself is equally essential when every goal isn’t met.

The Mental Health Impact of Failing to Meet Resolutions

Let’s delve into the potential mental health implications when our New Year’s resolutions slip through the cracks. It’s undeniable that stumbling on our set goals can sometimes cast a cloud of disappointment, leading to a dip in self-esteem and a surge in anxiety levels. This is primarily fuelled by the negative self-talk that follows, where we brand ourselves as ‘failures’.

What’s crucial to remember is that it’s expected only to accomplish some things we set out to do. The relentless pursuit of these resolutions can often obscure the genuine positivity they were meant to bring into our lives. So, as we navigate these goals, let’s remember to maintain a compassionate dialogue with ourselves, recognising each small step as a victory and not losing sight of the bigger picture of personal growth.

It’s all about treating every stumble as a learning opportunity rather than a setback. So, as we embark on this new year, let’s strive to be gentle with ourselves, embracing the journey of achieving our resolutions, irrespective of the outcome.

The Art of Setting Achievable Resolutions

Finding the right balance when forming your New Year’s resolutions is the cornerstone to achieving them without compromising your mental wellbeing. Instead of pushing yourself to the extreme with lofty and impractical goals, look towards cultivating resolutions that are smaller in scale and more aligned with your everyday life. It’s not about grandeur or being overly ambitious. It’s about creating attainable targets that, in turn, provide you with a tangible sense of accomplishment.

This could be as simple as dedicating a small amount of time each day to read, opting for healthier food choices, or picking up a new hobby. Remember, the primary aim of resolutions isn’t to tick off an exhaustive list but to nurture your growth and progression in manageable steps.

Choose goals that resonate with your lifestyle, those that are realistic and approachable, and you’ll find the process of achieving them much less taxing on your mental health.

Embracing Alternative Approaches to Resolutions

Should the concept of resolutions seem more daunting than inspiring, there’s no need to worry. Several other approaches you can adopt are less about rigorous goal-setting and more about cultivating personal growth.

Why not establish an overarching theme or life mantra for the year instead? This could be to ‘Prioritise self-care’ or ‘Embrace change’. This strategy allows you to focus on fostering personal development instead of simply ticking off a checklist. This method shifts the emphasis from achieving concrete targets to nurturing more abstract aspects of growth, providing a positive and potentially less stressful approach to the New Year.

Remember, the aim here isn’t to overhaul your life overnight but to gradually implement changes that promote your wellbeing. So, as we welcome this new year, consider moving away from rigid resolutions and embrace a more flexible and forgiving approach that resonates with you.