New Year resolutions for your mental health

In the past, I’ve never been keen on New Year resolutions because it makes it feel as if you can’t make changes on any other day of the year, and starting a resolution on the same day as many others can put too much pressure to succeed. However, if they are thought about and made with your mental health in mind they can be good things.


Let’s consider some pros and cons of New Year resolutions before you think about yours.

Pros and cons of making New Year resolutions

Pros of New Year resolutions

  • Fresh start: The New Year provides a symbolic fresh start, making it a good time to set new goals and intentions.
  • Motivation boost: Setting resolutions can be motivating and energising, providing a sense of purpose and direction.
  • Reflecting on growth: It encourages self-reflection on personal growth and areas for improvement.
  • Community support: Many people make resolutions, creating a sense of community and shared commitment to positive change.
  • Goal setting: A resolution can help in defining clear goals and objectives for the upcoming year.
  • Sense of control: Resolutions can provide a feeling of control over one's life and choices.

Cons of New Year resolutions

  • Unrealistic expectations: Some resolutions can be too ambitious, leading to disappointment if they are not achieved.
  • All-or-nothing thinking: People might adopt an "all-or-nothing" mindset, feeling discouraged if they deviate from their resolutions even slightly.
  • Pressure and stress: Setting resolutions can create unnecessary pressure and stress, especially if not approached with flexibility.
  • Short-lived enthusiasm: Initial enthusiasm may fade quickly, making it challenging to sustain motivation throughout the year.
  • External expectations: Resolutions may be influenced by societal or external expectations rather than personal values, leading to dissatisfaction.
  • Lack of specific plans: Setting goals without a clear plan or actionable steps can result in vagueness and difficulty in achieving them.
  • Comparison with others: Comparing one's progress with others may lead to feelings of inadequacy or failure.

Looking at the pros and cons, it’s clear that for you to succeed with a New Year resolution you need to make one that is challenging but achievable, where you can forgive a lapse and get back on course rather than giving up and feeling a failure. Here are some ideas you might like to think about to find that resolution and improve your mental health.

Resolutions that can benefit your mental health 

Nurture relationships

Focus on building and maintaining healthy relationships, and make an effort to connect with friends and loved ones regularly. Even short ‘Hi, how are you?’ messages on social media (WhatsApp, Messenger or text) work wonders.

Set boundaries

Establish healthy boundaries in your personal and professional life and learn to say "no" when you need to. Prioritise your well-being by avoiding overcommitting yourself.

Limit screen time

Set boundaries on your use of electronic devices, especially on social media. Designate specific times to unplug and engage in offline activities.

Start journalling/challenge negative thoughts, and practice gratitude

You could choose to do just one of these or combine them all in your journal.

  • Emotional journal. Keeping an emotional journal can be a valuable tool for self-reflection, emotional processing, and personal growth. 
  • Challenge negative thoughts
    • Replace negative thoughts with positive and realistic ones. For example, identify the negative thought that is causing distress or discomfort.
    • Ask yourself if there is real evidence to support that negative thought.
    • Challenge yourself to think about other possible interpretations.

Remember that challenging negative thoughts is an ongoing process, and it may take time to develop new thinking patterns. Be patient with yourself, and consider seeking support from a mental health professional if you find it hard to manage negative thoughts on your own.

  • Practice gratitude. Focus on things you are grateful for to shift your mindset towards positivity.
    • Keep a gratitude journal to regularly remind yourself of the positive aspects of your life.

Take up a physical activity

Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, as it can have a positive impact on mental health. Choose activities that you enjoy to make it sustainable – even walking to the shops instead of driving can count!

Prioritise sleep

Establish a consistent sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine and avoid electronic devices before bedtime to promote better sleep.

Cultivate a hobby

Find a hobby or creative outlet that brings you joy and helps you relax and dedicate time to engage in this activity regularly.

Establish a self-care routine

Develop a consistent self-care routine that includes activities you enjoy, such as reading, taking baths, or spending time in nature.

Practice mindfulness

Spend some time each day in mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises.

You can incorporate mindfulness into daily activities, such as eating, walking, or commuting. There are plenty of mindful apps which can help you get started.

Seek professional support

Perhaps your resolution could be to start therapy or counselling to help you get established in better routines. Schedule regular check-ins with a mental health professional, even when you're feeling well.

Remember, the key to successful resolutions is to start small, be realistic, and celebrate your progress along the way.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14
Written by Karen Baker, MBACP | Disordered Eating, Bereavement and Loss Counselling
Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14

Written by Karen Baker, MBACP | Disordered Eating, Bereavement and Loss Counselling

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