It’s that time of year again: it is almost New Year’s Eve. After all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, all anyone really needs to focus on usually is finding out what to do on New Year’s Eve and to sit down with a pen and paper and plan their New Year’s resolutions. Many will promise to lose weight, eat healthier, spend more time with their family, save more money and on and on. It is a good thing to make a promise to oneself to be better for the next year and make all these great changes, right? In truth, the making of News Year’s resolutions is really only beneficial to those who actually accomplish them. Around 50 percent of people make resolutions at the end of each year but around 90 percent of them don’t achieve the goals they set for themselves. This is where the habit of making New Year’s resolutions becomes problematic and hurtful towards a person’s mental health.
So how or why does the habit of making resolutions harm one’s mental health? It is not the act of making resolutions that is the problem but rather the failure to fulfill them that takes a toll on their mental health. When an individual fails to accomplish their goals, they may feel discouraged, weak or ineffective. They chide themselves for being unable to just lose a few pounds or simply save more money; a proverbial barrage of self-reprimand and disappointment. Individuals who made and failed to accomplish their resolutions for the next year may struggle with feeling like a failure. Many may resign themselves to keeping things boring, tedious or uninspiring knowing they can’t fail at what they have already accomplished and thus keeping themselves away from further disappointment but also putting them in a rut.
This downward spiral is the result of a fantastical idea that anything is possible if you just try hard enough. What follows that train of thought is that if one hasn’t accomplished this goal, it is because they aren’t trying hard enough when, in fact, this is not the case. Often, people make New Year’s resolutions that are big and grand and often somewhat hard to reach, even if they don’t mean to. When one doesn’t accomplish them they feel like a failure, an attitude which damages their mental health and often feeds into issues such as depression or anxiety.
There is, however, an alternative method to doing News Year’s resolutions. Keep them modest. The goals many people set at the beginning of the year are not easily reached so many people become discouraged and give up after a few months. Rather than make these grandiose resolutions, replace them with more realistic and modest goals. Replacing the visionary end-result based goals with more accessible ones erases the damage that large resolutions do to one’s mental health.
Smaller, step-based resolutions allow one to focus on the little successes they accomplish every day, creating an environment of positivity and encouragement. Additionally, it allows for the reality that change doesn’t happen immediately, it takes time and thus, taking the small but needed steps towards that change allows people to create good habits that lead towards betterment. For example: instead of making a resolution to lose 20 or 30 pounds, one can start taking a walk around the block each evening before or after dinner. Or even instead of deciding to save more money or save X amount of dollars, simply make a promise to put a small amount into savings, say $15 to $20, each month. So this year, rather than making large resolutions that most people will fail to accomplish, make a promise to start making the small, realistic changes that one can accomplish and feel encouraged about and that will ultimately benefit their mental health.
If you or someone you know are struggling with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, you can learn more about how to get help at prod.sovcal.com or by calling (866) 819-0427.
Written by Brianna Gibbons, Sovereign Health Group writer