New Year's resolutions are often made with a fresh sense of optimism and a hopeful promise of a better year ahead. Whether it’s saving money, improving physically or intellectually, whatever it is and no matter how gritty our determination is, research suggests that just a mere one in five of us manage to stick to our resolutions. So what is it that trips us up and stops us from achieving our goals?
Could it be that most resolutions are associated with cutting back, or adhering to strict, inflexible rules? Are they realistic and achievable or are they ill thought out, fraught dreams? Perhaps, dissatisfied with our own lives we clutch at misguided ideas of what we think would make our lives happier, more fulfilling and worthwhile. What can be more arduous and exhausting than trying to make ourselves perfect or better? No wonder our efforts are often doomed for failure.
Instead of committing to resolutions, which end up as forgotten good intentions, a failure to berate ourselves with (and only five days into January) - why not commit to some promises this year which will be good for your mental health and really make a lasting difference for the whole year?
Here are my favourite New Year’s Resolutions for a mentally healthy 2017...
1. Be kind to yourself
Instead of vowing that you will never eat chocolate EVER again for the whole year, how about doing the absolute opposite, and going especially out of your way to treat yourself this year? Regularly doing things that you enjoy will revitalise you. Don’t deny and punish yourself this January. Instead, treat yourself, have that slice of cake, because why not? You deserve it, and even better when shared over a coffee with a friend. Book an appointment at the hairdressers, read that book you have been longing to read or indulge in a relaxing bubble bath.
Resolution 1: Build in regular treat time.
2. Commit to doing something you're good at
Why strive on resolutions your useless at? Ask yourself, what brings my life happiness? Singing out loud, playing an instrument, dancing, baking, gardening? Instead of cutting out this New Year, why not add something in? Doing something which you enjoy and can achieve, will boost your self-esteem and self confidence.
Resolution 2: Invest time in activities which you love doing.
3. Take 5!
Make sure that you are not powering through every day without taking a moment to pause and reflect. Whether it’s taking a five minute break in your day for a bit of mindfulness colouring, sipping coffee and watching the world go by, counting the stars or taking out a few hours or an entire weekend to explore somewhere new, having a change of scenery and taking a step back, can really give a sense of direction and perspective.
Resolution 3: Build in time to reflect.
4. Talk about your feelings
Talking freely about your emotions can help you stay in good mental health and cope emotionally in the face of difficulties. Talking to others is an important step in taking charge of your wellbeing - making a small commitment to talk will help you keep mentally healthy.
Resolution 4: Speak out and reach out.
5. Keep in touch
Christmas is a wonderful time to gather with friends and family. But why do we always shelve reuniting and making time for others for only the Christmas season? Continue the spirit of Christmas into the whole year and keep in touch with relatives and friends. Whether it’s going for coffee, writing a letter or sending out a simple text, staying in touch will strengthen relationships. Instead of the wishful “let’s keep in touch” message, suggest some get together dates and stick to them.
Resolution 5: Set a date to meet or set a reminder on your phone to send a text.
Lastly, rather than making the same pointless resolutions this January of trying to be better, richer or more successful, accept who you are instead. Being content is one of one of the finest and most attractive character qualities a person could possess. We are all different and all unique, accepting and loving who you are is the best resolution you could make this year.