Can New Year’s Resolutions be Hazardous to Your Mental Health?
New Year is a time for partying and celebration but it is also a time for self-reflection and looking back over the last twelve months of your life. Chances are that when doing this, you are going to be looking back on both the good and the bad things that have happened in the last year.
New Year is also the time of year when people begin to set themselves resolutions for the following year. This has become a cultural norm in the West but it is one that can, for several reasons, be extremely problematic. It is a time where people can begin to feel negative about their actions over the previous year and seek to make unrealistic changes to their life. In the long run, New Year’s resolutions can be more damaging to your mental health than you might think.
One of the biggest reasons why New Year’s resolutions can have such a big impact on our mental health is because we set ourselves unrealistic expectations and goals. Research suggests that most people will not keep up their New Year’s resolutions past the end of January. For someone who has mental health issues or who suffers from low esteem, giving up on these unrealistic goals can make them feel even worse.
We live in an age where everybody’s life appears perfect when looking from the outside in. While Instagram and Facebook influencers may provide us with some inspiration, it is important to remember that their images are carefully manufactured. If you set yourself New Year’s resolutions or goals to look like those people or to have their lifestyle, then you are naturally going to feel incredibly disappointed when you can’t achieve that.
Fear of failure
The idea of failing is closely linked to anxiety and depression. Setting up impossible goals or having ridiculously lofty living ideals is a sure-fire way to ensure that you end up living in constant fear of failure. An obsession to succeed with your resolutions can lead you to neglect other areas in your life and as such, you could end up making unnecessary sacrifices that are damaging in the long run.
The biggest issue with a lot of New Year’s resolutions doesn’t even necessarily lie with failure, but rather with what they promote in the first place. New Year’s resolutions based around diet can often lead to people not eating correctly, while ones based around exercise can often see people becoming obsessed and neglecting their social life. Attempting to keep up with such unrealistic goals can also lead to burning out and this is only going to harm your mental health in the long run.
One of the most important things, if you are suffering from mental health issues, is to make sure that you set yourself more realistic New Year’s resolutions. Setting small, attainable goals and working on them consistently can have a huge impact on your life in the long run and is more productive than setting yourself impossible targets. It is important to remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Try not to be too harsh on yourself if you fall off the wagon every once in a while. More achievable New Year’s resolutions will be much more beneficial to you in the long run.
Don’t let them disrupt routines
When choosing New Year’s resolutions you are going to stick to, if you decide to make any at all, it is best to assess the likelihood of success and also how disruptive that resolution is going to be. Simply saying that you plan to lose weight can create problems if you don’t set yourself a target. It can also be difficult if you don’t assess what that entails. Many times, to achieve this kind of goal, you will need to make a lot of changes to your entire lifestyle and this can be incredibly disruptive, especially if your mental well-being relies largely on having good routines and being organized.
These disruptive changes can often be a serious shock to the system, they can make you feel anxious and cause you to feel unrecognizable to yourself. The culture surrounding New Year’s resolutions tell us that these changes are good, but upon further examination, these kinds of extreme changes can often be incredibly jarring and hazardous. You should speak to a trusted psychiatrist in the Midwest region who can help you set smaller, realistic goals.
New Year’s resolutions often involve one of three things – giving something up, doing something you’ve avoided doing, or starting something entirely new. While all three of these kinds of things can be excellent, they are often incredibly vague, and can, therefore, be very difficult to achieve. They can also be incredibly tricky to monitor in some ways. They may feel unnatural, they may make you feel as though you are swimming upstream and they might turn life into a constant battle.
There are, however, alternatives to making New Year’s resolutions. With the New Year being a time of reflection, looking back at the previous twelve months of your life and writing down all of the good things that you achieved can be a much more productive thing to do. It will make you realize how much you have achieved and it will also probably make you feel grateful for the people that helped you achieve those things.
New Year’s resolutions often come from a very negative mental space. They zone in on something that you believe is not good about yourself and this can be hazardous to your mental health, especially if you fail. Making a list of the things that you are grateful for or happy about totally flips this on its head and will help you feel a lot better about yourself and your life in general. This can also be a fun activity to do with other people and you can all share what you think you have done well.