New Year’s resolutions: helpful or harmful?

It’s that time of year again; people are bandying about terms like ‘fresh start’ and ‘clean slate’, and you wonder what your New Year’s resolution could be.

Most people go for something like, ‘go the gym more’ or ‘eat better’. Some people strive to get better grades or be kinder to their parents. And these are all well and dandy – until the pressure gets too much.

A lot of people, come February, will laugh and shrug their shoulders and jovially quip that they’ll ‘try again next year’. But a lot of people, come February, will be drowning in the sense of defeat and disappointment.

A lot of New Year’s resolutions are too hard to achieve – impossible, almost. But in today’s society, where we’re surrounded by images of seemingly ‘perfect’ lives on social media, we think going to the gym for a few hours every single day for 365 days is possible. And when the reality doesn’t match up to that, it can take its toll.

We’re hard on ourselves with New Year’s resolutions. We take a look at ourselves and pick out things we don’t like and try to change huge, vast parts of ourselves.

A few years ago, I challenged myself to stop self-harming, when it had been a problem for an incredibly long time. Asking myself to stop something as drastic as that in a heartbeat was obviously never going to work: but three weeks in when I found myself failing, I took it out on myself more and more. While this is perhaps an extreme example, a lot of people struggle with negative feelings surrounding New Year’s resolutions when they ultimately should be a positive thing.

That’s not to say they’re a bad thing: everybody loves the chance to start afresh. But we need to focus on bettering ourselves in manageable ways – not blowing goals out of proportion and failing to achieve anything.

Your New Year’s resolution shouldn’t be about drastically turning your entire life around. This year, challenge yourself to be more ‘you’. Do more of the things you love. See more of the people you love. Learn to be more comfortable with yourself. You’re already smashing it!

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