It’s December 31st and everyone asks the same question: What’s your New Year’s Resolution? Is it to lose weight? Or maybe it’s spending more time with your friends and family, or are you finally going to stop being glued to your phone all day? They come in all shapes and sizes, and as the clock strikes midnight you’ll start making all kinds of promises to yourself.
New Years Resolutions: We all make them. We all fail them
And what happens when we fail them? We feel as if we failed ourselves. These promises were supposed to be goals that are meant to help us improve ourselves as we turn a new page in our lives. But they don’t really have the effect they’re supposed to have, do they?
The top three New Years Resolutions are to eat healthier, get more exercise and save money. Let’s see how that goes. By the end of January, you’ve already ordered more takeaways than you’d like to admit and bought a gym membership but only went twice. And how’s that promise to save money this year? You check your Amazon app just to see that four of your orders have been dispatched. Need I say more? And then the guilt comes. You made 10 resolutions and once again you’ve failed all of them. So, if you’ve failed them, you must be a failure, right? This is just one example regarding the negative effects New Year’s resolution can have on mental health.
False Hope Syndrome
This is all linked to the False Hope Syndrome. This syndrome brings a sense of overconfidence in individuals which transforms the feeling of hope into false hope, which subsequently makes you think that self-change is extremely easy. “This year I want to quit sugar altogether!” If you have sugar for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is that achievable? Of course not. Self-change does depend to a great extent on our willpower, but habits are difficult things to break.
People who make New Year’s resolutions are at high risk of developing low self-esteem and for people who are already susceptible to mental health issues, this can also worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety. As they create unrealistic expectations of self-change, when they aren’t fulfilled they produce a negative image of the self. The individual is going to see this as a major disappointment. You don’t have what you desired and there’s a high chance you might never have it. So for those of us who cannot stick to these resolutions (more than 80% of the population), they do more damage than good.
Still want to make New Year’s Resolutions? Here are a few tips:
- Don’t be strict when creating New Years Resolutions.
- Make realistic goals.
- If you fail, try changing your way of thinking about it. Don’t see it as a failure, but as a minor setback.
- Start again, but this time ask yourself why you weren’t able to continue.
- Once you find the reason, try readjusting your resolution.
Finally, don’t feel pressured into making New Years Resolutions. Every day is a new beginning and it really does not matter when you decide to take the self-improvement path, be it in January or in November.