New Year, New me? Are new year’s resolutions good for your mental health?

A very Happy New Year to all our readers!

We all are welcoming a brand-new year, and I’m sure that many of us have been laboriously working on a LONG list of resolutions aiming to give the upcoming year some purpose. While the process of setting goals does give us a temporary high, not being able to implement them can also give a sense of failure this can lead to an increase in anxiety and stress, amongst other mental issues.

Shall we talk about the irony of life? All our financial, physical, spiritual resolutions and goals are set by us to be happy. However, our biggest causes of stress and anxiety stem from the same journey of chasing these resolutions and goals? In this week’s post we wanted to discuss whether new year’s resolutions are actually good for our mental health and advise on how to better manage our mental wellbeing this year.

Creating long term resolutions and goals for the year may seem motivating at first, but gradually starts putting the individual under a lot of pressure and births the feelings of anxiety and decreased self-esteem. On the contrary, choosing a short-term goal works best for most people. This new resolution doesn’t necessarily have to be a new goal but can also be a resolution or goal which could not be fulfilled last year. Realistic resolutions can be a great catalyst for change. According to several leading happiness and positive psychology experts’ small changes that touch on how we interact with ourselves or how we cultivate our inner world can pave way for BIG WINS across the board.

Another very important thing which sometimes gets lost in the hecticness of our daily lives is the impact positivity can bring to our mental peace. Staying positive boosts our performance and gives us ‘happiness advantage.’ When we’re appreciative of things, dopamine is released and improves our mood and triggers feelings of happiness within us. Being kind to ourselves alongside positivity can go a long way in keeping us mentally sound and happy. Forgive yourself for mistakes and do at least one activity a day which leaves you feeling content and at peace. Scheduling such an activity will have you looking forward to something at the end of the day and will motivate you to finish your tasks for the day.

Do you remember how our colleague’s boastful tone while talking about his all-nighter last week left us feeling unproductive? I’m sure ALL of us have gone through this feeling once or twice, and we’ve found our own selves deliberating our decision to pull one too! OR COMPROMISE sleep to finish work? Studies have found that sleep and mental health are intertwined, and approximately 65-90% people with major depression lack sleep, 10-18% of adults with lack of sleep experience anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A well-rested body results in alertness and a positive mood the next day. The average adult required up to 8 hours of sleep per night. However, most of us face struggles of getting sleep even once we’re all tucked into our cosy beds. Trying to go to bed and waking up the same time each day, can program our biological clock as we will get into a habit of waking up at the same time everyday of the week. This is one of the biggest factors in establishing a consistent and healthy sleep routine. We all love quick naps during the days, don’t we? However, this can prove to be quite detrimental, especially when one is trying to form a consistent sleep routine. Napping during the day directly increases the time it takes to get to sleep at night. Limiting caffeine, sugar and alcohol before bed can be incredibly helpful in this combat. These substances are eminent triggers of anxiety and can leave us feeling jittery at night. Limiting screen time 30-60 minutes before the target bedtime can also prove to be beneficial in getting a good night’s sleep. These devices give off lights which are overly stimulating and keep us awake.

30% adolescents struggle from social media addiction, compulsive checking of one’s social media has been linked to aspects of ‘fear of missing out’. Surveys have shown that this leads to people losing sleep through the unnecessary scrolling of social media, being constantly disturbed by notifications, and finding it difficult to relax. These negative impacts lead to a cyclical causal relationship of social media with mental wellbeing. Another detrimental impact of social media is the persistent and damaging comparison with the lives of others. This has been successfully identified as a risk factor for reduced wellbeing.  A variety of studies have also concluded that social media use is strongly associated with negative self-esteem and self-image. By striking a healthy balance or limiting our social media usage can significantly reduce our procrastination time and will prove to be healthier in taking a step back from this false sense of reality in 2022. Instead, investing in real, genuine relationships that enable a feeling of reality and build perspective, particularly during the times when we feel STUCK.

Exercising regularly increases and releases dopamine (happy hormone) and cortisol (hormone responsible for fight or flight response) in our body. Incorporating any form of exercise be it walking, running, or something as simple as completing our steps for the day can elevate our mood and reduce anxiety and stress. Exercising or including any form of physical activity will also motivate us to eat healthier. Having a balanced, nutritious diet can bring about chemical and physiological changes in our brain structure which can help improve mood drastically.

This new year let us aim to personalize our mental health care routine. Start by asking what does rest look like for you? Does it look like legs a crossed and chanting mantra, or does it look like hiking to the highest peak in the area? OR is it curling up in a blanket reading? OR tending to your garden? Find the combination that leaves YOU feeling rested and content. What relaxes me, can be very different from what relaxes you, which is why instead of giving to the social norms of PRESCRIBED, CONVENTIONAL de-stressors, it is very important to find our own personal health care routine.

I would say do not fall into the trap of new year, new me! We have all heard this unrealistically ambitious phrase being mentioned every NYE just before the clock turns midnight. But given all that I have mentioned here, is the goal to be a new you? Or to be a healthier you? Telling yourself that you want to be a completely NEW person or different person sends your brain the message that who you are right now is not good enough. Which then takes us to some serious self-esteem issues, I believe if are going to set yourself some goals, then let them be goals that are personal to you, a goal that when achieved will celebrate who you already are. The resolution to be a better version of yourself at your own pace. With the main aim to protect your mental health and set goals that will make YOU a more content and happier individual.



Realistic New Year’s Resolutions for Your Mental Health - Mental Health First Aid

Sleep and Mental Health - Harvard Health Publishing - Harvard Health


January 03, 2022 — Aditi Singhania

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