New Year's resolutions could be bad for your mental health
Posted Friday 2 January 2009
"New year, new you" is a popular phrase, but in the dawn of 2009, leading mental health charity Mind is urging people not to feel obliged to make New Year's resolutions as they can be bad for your mental health.
Around 7 million people in the UK will today make a New Year's resolution (1), many with a negative focus that lead people to concentrate on perceived imperfections such as being overweight. This creates a negative self image which in turn can lead to feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and mild depression.
For others, feelings of failure and inadequacy can be triggered by the inability to stick to New Year's resolutions. Research has shown that only one in ten people will keep their resolution for a whole year (2). Often people set themselves up to fail by creating unrealistic targets. They either deprive themselves or push themselves too far and are left feeling low when they 'give up' or 'give in'. This is a blow to self-esteem, and what started out as a resolution to improve wellbeing ends up being detrimental to our mental health.
Mind believes that instead of making New Year's resolutions, there are a few simple steps that we can all take throughout the year to boost our mental wellbeing, including:
- Being active: exercise releases endorphins, and is proven to be beneficial for your mental wellbeing. You don't have to be an athlete - a study by Mind found that after just one gentle stroll in the countryside 71% of people had decreased feelings of depression (3).
- Going green: take advantage of the natural ecotherapy available on your doorstep. Evidence shows that connecting with nature boosts your mood and lifts depression. So do some gardening or head out for a walk.
- Trying something new will keep your mind stimulated and give you confidence in your abilities. Why not take up an instrument or learn a new language?
- Giving back to your community can be just as rewarding for yourself as those you choose to help. Why not volunteer your time to a local Mind association or Mind charity shop in 2009, or if you're feeling adventurous sign up for one of Mind's fundraising events?
Mind's Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
"New year's resolutions can sometimes focus on our problems or insecurities such as being overweight, feeling unhappy in our jobs or feeling guilty about not devoting enough time to friends and family throughout the year. We chastise ourselves for our perceived shortcomings and set unrealistic goals to change our behaviour, so it's not surprising that when we fail to keep resolutions, we end up feeling worse than when we started. In 2009, instead of making a New Year's resolution, think positively about the year to come and what you can achieve."
(1) Institute of Financial Advisors (2006)(2) Wiseman, R. (2007) University of Hertfordshire
(3) Mind (2007) Ecotherapy: the green agenda for mental health (PDF)
Notes to editors
- Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress.
- For more information or interviews please contact the Mind media team on T: 020 8522 1743 M: 07850 788514 (use mobile number on Thursday 1 January) E: email@example.com ISDN line available: 020 8221 0817
- Please note that Mind is not an acronym and should be set in title case.