The beginning of a new year is often seen as a fresh start for many people to work on themselves, their goals and set intentions on how they would like the year ahead of them to look. However, while the ‘new year new me’ motto has been globally accepted as a positive mentality for people to adopt towards the end of the year, mental health experts suggest that your new year’s resolution list may be damaging to your mental health. Therefore, we are going to be diving into these claims to how this mentality can affect you in 2021, and how you can take care of your health in a nourishing and proactive fashion.
Self-Improvement vs. Your New Year’s Resolution List
Before discussing why this ‘new year, new me’ mentality can be damaging to your overall mental health, it is important to note that self-improvement and a resolution list are different, contrary to what you may have previously believed. Self-improvement is all about aspiring to be the best version of ourselves by paying attention to the little things in our lives in which we want to improve, without putting a time limit on our goals.
On the other hand, your new year’s resolution list is most likely filled with overly bold goals that aren’t necessarily realistic. This in turn will make it more difficult for you to achieve your goal. We are by no means suggesting that you avoid setting larger intentions and goals for yourself, but rather setting little goals along the way that will keep you motivated for longer. This will help your self-improvement journey and will help you achieve your larger goal in the end.
For example, if you have the desire to lose 25 kilograms this year, instead of making it the intention to lose 25 kilograms, make it your goal to first, begin working out a couple of times a week, and losing 2 kilograms until you reach your goal of 25 kilograms. This is the proper way to take care of your health and set yourself up for success in the long run as opposed to setting a goal that seems impossible to achieve.
Effects on Your Mental Health
According to a recent study conducted in the United States, a psychology professor at the University of Scranton, John C. Norcross discovered that approximately 40% of Americans begin each new year with resolutions, with less than half being successful after six months. This poses the question as to why the majority of us set ourselves up for failure every year? The best answer to this question is what is known as False Hope Syndrome which is defined as a “cycle of failure and renewed effort… that is characterized by unrealistic expectations about the likely speed, amount, ease, and consequences of self-change attempts.” While this is one way for our brains methods to influence us in pushing forward, it is also a way for our brains to falsely mentally prepare ourselves as well.
Therefore, this unrealistic and overly false confidence paired with the reality of not achieving your goals that can significantly damage your mental and emotional health including:
Feelings of worthiness
Relapse into your bad habits including alcohol and substance use
Feelings of regret
How to Take Care of Your Health and Practice Self-Care
One of the best ways to take care of your overall health (physical, mental and emotional) is to realize that we must look at the bigger picture. Rather than setting a goal we should make small changes to improve our lifestyle to meet that goal. This means that we must understand the little details on how to follow through and achieve our desired intentions.
Show Kindest To Yourself
There is no denying that we are our toughest critics. At times, making changes in our lives to overcome bad habits is difficult –and that is okay! Rather than focusing on belittling ourselves when we do not achieve our goals right away, is to show kindness and remember that the journey of achieving your goals is more important at the end of the day.
Focus on Small Victories
Another aspect in life that we as human beings fail to do a lot of the time is given ourselves credit for little victories. Whether it’s getting up before 8 am to go on a run instead of waking up at noon or being in bed right at 10 pm with your phone turned off instead of staying up until 3 am –although small victories, you still need to celebrate and pat yourself on the back. Why you might ask? It’s simple –these small victories are getting you closer to your end goal at the end of the day.
Stop Neglecting Your Mental Health
Confronting your mental health is often difficult. Partially because we are afraid to admit that we are not doing okay mentally, and others because we isolate ourselves and cover up how we are truly feeling. In 2021, it is time to take care of your health and focus on improving your well-being –the rest will fall into place. If you are wishing to take control of your goals in life, you first need to ensure that you are safe and secure before you can begin your journey to becoming the best version of yourself.
As indicated, setting a new year’s resolution list can often cause mental health problems for individuals who are unable to achieve their unrealistic goals. Before setting your intentions with your objectives, sit down and write out a detailed plan on how you are doing to achieve your result. This way, you will be able to achieve smaller goals along the way that will keep you motivated in the long run, as opposed to feeling as though you are unworthy. Remember, working towards a change in lifestyle will improve your physical, mental and emotional well-being throughout the year.
If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of mental health, please visit Samaritans of Singapore for more information on how to receive support.