The start of a new year is often seen as the prime opportunity for a new beginning. Heading into 2022, many will have set fitness goals, resolutions to curb addiction, promises to lose weight - but what if it doesn't go to plan?
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Latest research shows that over a third of people in the UK feel pressure to set New Year resolutions, but almost 30% break these in the first week. So, if you've already called it quits on your promise to attempt Veganuary, you're not alone.
HELLO! spoke to Dee Johnson, leading therapist at The Priory Chelmsford to debunk why there is so much guilt associated with failure - and what you can do to reframe your thinking as we head into 2022.
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Is the 'New Year, New Me' phrase an unrealistic expectation?
"It can be," says Dee. "It's natural to feel the need to kickstart change around the new year, gaining that extra motivation to achieve goals or change".
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"Ultimately, looking after your mental, emotional, physical and even spiritual health is always the most important," explains Dee. "If setting a resolution works for you, then go for it. Having clear targets and goals can be a motivational driver for many people.
"However, if you’re setting resolutions because you feel guilty, overwhelmed or trying to deal with low self-worth, it’s likely you'll find it difficult to sustain these.
"Ultimately, all this does is lead to more internal self-reproach, self-bashing and feeling worse about yourself. It’s important to put aside what cultural expectations surround you. Make resolutions and set goals for the right reasons and not because you feel you have to," Dee continued.
I've broken my New Year's resolutions, how can I cope with feelings of guilt?
"Remember – it’s just a day in the calendar", Dee confirmed. "Try and get that into perspective be kinder to your inner self. What matters, is finding out when and how you would feel ready to make changes or achieve new goals."
It can be hard to push away negative thoughts and be positive when you think you’ve messed up. If you are struggling with your mental health after breaking a resolution, Dee recommends talking it through first with a trusted friend or family member.
Don't put too much pressure on yourself to set new goals
"It takes real courage to be honest about how you are really feeling," explained Dee. "Making comparisons with others is never helpful either. This can be especially dangerous over the Christmas and New Year period – especially if you spend a lot of time on social media. Log off to help your mental health, rather than doom scrolling down your social feed believing everyone else is nailing NY resolutions".
I've broken my resolution, should I give up?
Dee explained that a better way to set New Year's resolutions is to be flexible with your expectations.
"You might start off fixed on one thing but find it naturally took you on a different path that you may not have planned to go on - but in the end, you achieve something else just as satisfying," says Dee. "Rigid thinking can be demanding, stifling and runs the risk of losing any joy and motivation, so be flexible".
What is a realistic way to set New Year's resolutions (and prepare ourselves for failure)?
"Failure isn’t a problem, it’s a part of life. The point is you tried. Stay focused on what really works for you as opposed to what's expected - goals come easier when we feel a genuine heartfelt connection to them." Instead, Dee recommends trying acts of being kinder to yourself and others.
"Practice daily gratitude for example, or journaling. Doing these things regularly builds a better healthier mindset and being in that frame of mind is a better starting point for new goals and resolutions, no matter what day in the diary it is." Noted!
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Journalling is a great way to start each day with a fresh mindset, set intentions, and make a note of things that make you feel good. Whether you've made resolutions or not this year, remember that 1 January "is just another day in the calendar". You can always try again tomorrow!
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