Writer Mary-Claire Evans, explores why New Year’s resolutions can be unhealthy and counterproductive.
Looking back on the first month of 2022, how do you feel? If it is guilty, tired, and a bit of a failure, then this article is for you!
Every year, society pressures us into choosing parts of ourselves to nip and tuck – maybe you should run more, maybe you should eat less fast food, or maybe you should stop swearing. We start to pick ourselves apart, psychoanalysing our life and achievements thus far, all the while making ourselves feel bad about something we previously paid little attention to. And as a reward, we give ourselves two or three weeks of added stress and pressure by beating ourselves up for skipping a gym despite having a rough day at work. Lets face it, some days what you really need is to just curl up on the sofa and hibernate.
It is so easy to feel inadequate when you struggle to meet the goals you set for yourself, especially when your friends and colleagues seem to breeze through their resolutions. The crazy thing is, most people go through this but we don’t really talk about what’s happening under the surface. No matter what society tells us, ‘resolution culture’ doesn’t always work. What’s more, it isn’t always healthy and can sometimes be highly damaging.
In this article, I delve into some of the toxicity surrounding this new year’s ritual and offer some healthier (not to mention kinder) alternatives and practises to bear in mind when striving for self-improvement.
Trying to implement instant change never works, no matter how much you might want the end result. Healthline reports that “it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic”. So, unless you’re one of those lucky 18-day people, it will take a lot longer than January to feel like you’re making progress with your resolutions. Whenever you feel like you’re not succeeding, remember that change happens slowly, and by putting pressure on yourself to be a brand new person in one month – or even two – you are denying yourself the opportunity to grow organically and healthily. Besides, who wants to feel guilty about being unable to meet such unachievable targets? It is also worth adding that you don’t need a new year to start a journey of self-improvement. It is something you can start, and come back to, any time of the year.
Starting a new year can be difficult. Facing the prospect of another 12 months of work, planning much-needed holidays, scheduling in those mini breakdowns, remembering to write a new date – and you’re not even halfway through winter yet! So it is more important than ever (especially for those SAD friends) to practice self-care.
It is not always conducive to a healthy lifestyle to mentally and physically exhaust yourself by slogging to the gym every day, or planning meal prep with exclusively organic ingredients when you have no idea where to source them or if you can even afford it. Instead, try and set small goals which can be easily turned into healthy and more achievable habits. Work at it little by little. By adding these smaller habits to your daily life slowly; first with one day a week, then two, then every other day – it’ll soon become second nature. If you feel tired, let yourself be tired. Don’t feel guilty for not being constantly on the move or always busy working on a new project. Trust what your body is telling you and listen to what it needs.
You Have to Want it
Trust me when I say, you will only change if you want to. It doesn’t matter how much you feel you should change, or what social or personal pressure dictates. Change comes from the inside out. So, when it comes to deciding on your new, healthy resolutions, you should take a moment to evaluate yourself. Look deeply and candidly. Make a list of things you love about yourself and things that may be holding you back. Think about what you want to embrace in the new year, and what you want to let go of. It is a wonderful thing to be truly honest with yourself in the face of self-refinement. Once you uncover those parts of yourself you wish to nurture and further develop, you will be a lot more motivated to put long term work into it.
So remember, start slow, take care of yourself, and only implement change if you really want to. Good luck in the new year.
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