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Learn that setting big goals can sometimes negatively affect your mental well being. Choose smaller, obtainable goals first and build up your confidence in yourself.

This is the time of year to rid yourself of the old habits you dislike so much, and bring in a whole set of new improvements that can give you the impetus and motivation to get yourself to a better place, be that personally, professionally, physically or mentally. Healthy and easy New Year's Resolutions​ are a great self improvement tool. And yet sometimes people forget the last point of the above. How the resolutions you make at the start of the year can help improve your mental health in the short and long term.

Don’t Get Down

A new year is a nice, new, clean slate. Any mistakes that bogged you down previously can be forgotten about - consign them to the history books. Let them leave your brain and start yourself on a path of mental enlightenment, peace and happiness. No doubt, some of the resolutions you make may fall down by the wayside, but that’s just what happens. Yet you shouldn’t let that stop you making new decisions. Failing is a part of learning and growing, and if we keep persisting to achieve your goals, the satisfaction and mental boost is so gratifying when you do. There are reasons you don't stick to New Years Resolutions and here is a few more reasons why I know setting new goals for 2017 can help improve your mental health.

Setting the Goal

There is something really great about setting a goal. If you set a realistic, achievable but challenging target within your life, and you’re willing to set the time aside to work on yourself in relation to the goal, there’s every chance that you will succeed, and this in itself will have a huge effect on the way you feel within your mind. How do I know this? It’s tried and tested by millions of people, including myself.

Attaining the Goal

Attaining a goal that you’ve set yourself gives you a huge boost of confidence, something that is massively important to mental health. A lot of mental health is based on perception. How you feel about yourself, inward, and how you come across to others, outwardly. If you can help yourself in any way, it’s by allowing yourself to achieve. It’s not dissimilar to setting a to-do list at the beginning of a week. How goes does it feel to cross away each item on the list once you’ve finished, knowing you’re one step closer to where you need to be. That’s what resolution setting is, but on a year-wide scale. If you want to run a marathon, then go ahead. But set it out in stages, go with beginner's running program. Start off aiming to run 5k in 10 weeks. Once you’ve done this, maybe be more challenging on yourself and aim to conquer 15k in the following 20 weeks. These great little stages will help you feel amazing about yourself while still being hard enough to warrant genuine effort.

Mental Health Resolutions: Just Be Honest

Being honest with yourself at the beginning of the year is also the best way to be. Mental health is largely, although not entirely, based on happiness. There’s the chemical affects your brain takes on in relation to mental health, which are in some ways beyond our control, but situational factors are a strong indicator of how well our minds are. If there are things you’ve done in the previous year - be that in relationships, friendships or work - that you’re unhappy with, be honest with yourself about these, and allow the resolutions you make in 2017 reflect how much better you know yourself now, having gone through these problems last year.

Being honest can be a really hard thing. But use the 31st of December 2016 as the cut off point. Use the term ‘last year’s me’ to break away from that person, and try and improve upon what you’ve done through the goals you’re setting today. Did you treat someone poorly? Well, aim to treat others with the greatest of respect, and work towards this by acknowledging, but letting go, the feeling you got when things went badly. Getting yourself in a frame of mind that doesn’t punish your every move is a super great way to start.

Break Down Your Resolutions

It also depends on what resolutions you’re planning to make. There is a fine line between quitting and reducing. What I mean by that is, if you aim to quit drinking, or quit all types of chocolate, you’re going to feel terrible when you ‘relapse’. I put “when” because you probably will. Because everyone does. And mentally, this will affect you massively. However, if you reduce something you don’t want to do, this gives you the legroom to have a glass of wine after a tough day, or snap a little bit of your partner’s chocolate of their bar when they aren’t looking. And yeah, OK, you might say “oh, I shouldn’t have done that”, but you won’t completely give up on your resolution this way. You’ll merely say “OK, back to it tomorrow working harder than ever” - the difference you feel mentally will be massive, all because you’re giving yourself the permission to have a tougher day. And why not?

I’m not an expert, for sure. But I’ve spend a hell of a lot of time setting goals, falling back from them and succeeding at them, too. It’s not rocket science but it’s also not easy. New Year’s Resolutions are often seen as negative, but only because people are stupid with their expectations. Mentally, they set themselves up to fall before they’ve even started to climb. At least this way, you’ve tied a rope around your waist, so if you fall, you don’t go very far.

There are so many choices and option when it comes to setting resolutions for the future. They will all affect your mental health, some way or another. The best thing to do is to acknowledge this and tackle it - and yourself - head on. Use other people to help you, too. If you have a partner, tell them your goals for the coming year and allow them permission to hold you to them. If they know you well enough, they will know when to push you and when to allow you a little bit of slack. New Year’s Resolutions can be great physically and mentally, and knowing that is half the battle.

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