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How new year’s resolutions affect mental health

Every New Year offers a chance to start anew. After all, what better time is there for reflection and goal-setting than the time of new beginnings. We make plans and promises to become better versions of ourselves and strive to stick to them for the rest of the year. From self-improvement to eating healthy, millions of people around the world make resolutions they want to accomplish. But what if we don’t follow through on these resolutions?

A recent study found that about two-thirds or 64% of people abandon their New Year’s resolution within a month, while according to a different study only 22% of Americans said they stuck to some of the resolutions they made for 2022. When resolutions fail, they can become a source of stress and may result in mental health problems. And while having goals is an admirable endeavor, it’s important to remember that these resolutions may be doing more harm than good when it comes to your mental health. Let’s take a closer look at the potential and pitfalls of setting New Year’s resolutions. 

The benefits of making goals

One benefit to creating New Year’s resolutions is that it gives you an opportunity to reflect on the past year and recognize areas where you can make improvements or changes. It also provides you with a sense of purpose that can help increase your motivation in tackling these goals throughout the year. This could lead to increased productivity, better time management skills, and a greater sense of accomplishment when you eventually reach your goals. 

The drawbacks of setting New Year’s resolutions

However, when it comes to making and keeping New Year’s resolutions, there can be a downside too. Studies show that resolutions can become an unrealistic source of pressure that can actually have a negative effect on our mental health in the long run. While we set high standards for ourselves, often our expectations are too ambitious, and when we fail to meet them we end up feeling worse, guilty or ashamed. This can then lead to a damaging cycle of self-doubt or even mental health conditions such anxiety and depression.

The risks involved in making resolutions 

Unfortunately, there are also some risks involved in making resolutions as well. If you set unrealistic expectations or too many goals at once, it can become overwhelming and discouraging if you don’t achieve them quickly enough. This could lead to feelings of failure and low self-esteem which can be damaging for your emotional wellbeing in the long run. It’s important to remember that progress doesn’t always happen overnight; instead, focus on taking small steps towards your bigger goals and celebrate any successes along the way!  

Why New Year’s resolutions may be harmful to your mental health

In theory, setting goals for yourself is a great way to stay motivated and make positive changes in your life. But when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, there can be a lot of pressure to succeed that can be detrimental to your mental health. Many people set goals that are too ambitious or too hard to achieve. This type of goal setting often leads to feelings of frustration, inadequacy and failure when they don’t meet their expectations. 

In addition, many people tend to focus on making drastic changes that require a tremendous amount of willpower and dedication over the course of the year. They struggle to find time to exercise more, lose weight, quit smoking, or spend more time with friends and family and less on social media. This kind of “all-or-nothing” approach has been linked with higher levels of stress and anxiety and can lead to some degree of self-sabotage because it puts intense pressure on you to achieve something that may not be realistic or achievable in the time frame you have set for yourself. 

Focus on self-care instead of resolutions 

Rather than setting unrealistic goals, why not focus on self-care or mindfulness activities? Self-care should be something that you prioritize in order to foster positive mental wellbeing. This could involve anything from taking time out for yourself, practicing mindfulness activities like yoga or meditation to improve your mental health, or learning how to practice self-compassion when things get tough. Incorporating these activities into daily life will help build positive habits over time which are much healthier than strict rules or ambitious targets which might not be achievable in a short amount of time. 

How to set realistic resolutions for the new year 

If you still want to set resolutions, it’s important to take a realistic approach. Here’s a few tips you can follow:

  • Start with what’s right. Think about what is working in your life, and how you can adjust those things to make them even better.
  • Reflect on your accomplishments. There have probably been some successes throughout the previous year, so take a moment to celebrate them and reflect on what you did to help make those happen.
  • Set realistic goals. Make sure that whatever goals you set for yourself are achievable and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
  • Focus on progress, not perfection. It’s important to remember that progress takes time, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t achieve your goals overnight.
  • Small wins matter. Celebrate the small successes as they come and use them as motivation to keep going.
  • Take your time. Don’t set strict deadlines for yourself; instead, focus on taking small steps towards achieving your goals over a longer period of time.
  • Occasional slips are part of the process. We all make mistakes and it’s absolutely ok to have setbacks along the way. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your goals; just take a step back and refocus on what you can do to get back on track.
  • Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you fail, instead focus on celebrating each success however small it may be.

By following these tips, you can create realistic, achievable goals for yourself that will help promote positive mental wellbeing without putting too much pressure on yourself to succeed.

Remember that progress takes time so don’t get discouraged if things don’t change right away—take it one day at a time!

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