Unrealistic Resolutions may be Hazardous to your Mental Health

mental health is important

Setting unrealistic New Year’s resolutions may not be so good for your mental health. So says Abdurahman Kenny, Mental Health Portfolio Manager for Pharma Dynamics.

“Making New Year’s resolutions often involves self-reflection, which in general is good practice if done in a constructive way. However, the reality is that for many, the past year may have been discouraging and fraught with difficulty. Those dealing with depression, troubling life events, loss of a loved one, divorce or lack of self-esteem, may find themselves spiralling into patterns of negative thought as their problems or perceived imperfections consume their thinking. The added pressure of setting and failing to keep to New Year’s resolutions may exacerbate feelings of worthlessness.

“When resolutions involve making significant behaviour changes, it adds a huge amount of extra stress and pressure, which increases our cortisol (stress hormone) levels. When we fail, we tend to punish ourselves for our perceived shortcomings. This makes us feel inadequate and worse than when we started.”

For those who want to stay true to the tradition, he recommends making small, realistic changes rather than setting unattainable goals.

“For example, if you’re wanting to lose weight, make healthy eating your goal as opposed to losing a certain amount of weight by a certain date. By focusing on a concept – whether it’s becoming healthier, being more adventurous or spending more quality time with your loved ones, you’re bound to achieve it if that’s where you put your focus.”

Here Kenny provides some tips to approach New Year’s resolutions:

1.     So many resolutions are focused on what you’re doing wrong or what you need to change about yourself, which can be damaging. Instead, focus on your strengths and how you can use these to create the life you want.

2.     Be kind to yourself by celebrating the progress you have made and how far you’ve come. Let your successes motivate you to keep moving forward.

3.     Don’t compare yourself to others. Strive to be the best YOU!

4.     Set small, attainable goals and take it one day at a time as opposed to looking too far into the future.

5.     Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t succeed timeously, be flexible and re-evaluate your goals rather than giving up on them altogether.

“The word ‘New’ in New Year often refers to turning over a new leaf, but it’s not easy changing old habits overnight. Remember that change is a process. Instead of making resolutions that cause you stress and anxiety, focus on making those that encourage self-care and promote mental well-being,” remarks Kenny.

He says this time of the year typically takes its toll on the public, especially once the parties and tinsel fade away and post-holiday blues sets in.

Just a reminder that you don’t have to make resolutions. Or huge decisions. Or big proclamations. You can just set some sweet intentions and take each day as it comes.

Victoria Erickson

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