Should be still be setting New Year resolutions?

As a psychotherapist, a popular comment that I hear at this time of the year is that people want to ‘start afresh’ as it is the New Year. People often start setting New Year resolutions with really good intentions – start that diet yet again, get really fit, have a positive mindset, spend more time on things we enjoy etc.


Although these intentions are well meant I would like to provide an alternative way to get the best out of the start of this year.

Getting the best start out of the new year

Practice compassion focused therapy

My first tip is to practice compassion focussed therapy (CFT). This therapy is so good for us in so many ways. Anxiety is one of the biggest increases in mental health. Research suggests that the reason for the increase in anxiety is the lack of certainty we are struggling with. If we feel we are out of control of our destiny, then this can create an anxious state where uncertainty becomes a threat to our well-being. How do we know anxiety is getting worse? Research suggests that at least 10%, maybe as high as a third of us will now be diagnosed with anxiety sometime in our lives.

CFT informs us that this threat system, designed to protect us, can easily become over-active, affects key parts of our brain, and goes through the main channel of our body increasing hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol. So, we then feel agitated and focus more on our physical symptoms, worrying about what is wrong with us, ending in a vicious cycle, and creating more anxiety and discomfort.

So, by focusing more on developing strategies that self-soothe us, this helps us to overcome the anxiety cycle. When you are calm, you can control your anxiety.

So, before you set goals for your New Year, maybe think about developing goals to help you to cope with whatever situation you may find yourself in – so that you bring calmness, courage and compassion to yourself and others to help you to endure any adversity, stress or challenge you may have to face.

Create a regular practice for CFT

My second tip is to create a regular practice for CFT. This therapy has many aspects to work on but a simple way to start is to create a daily compassionate practice. These skills can be easily learned but it takes commitment to make it effective. Research shows that positive changes can be significantly seen as early as two weeks.

Keep things simple

My third tip is to keep things simple. Here are two simple techniques you can easily use to start practising compassionate focussed practice. The first is to visualise in detail a calm relaxing place, where you remember feeling calm, without negative memories. It can help to write this down in detail, going through each of the five senses and noting how you feel when you recall this place.

The second is to find a place, either inside or outside where you can create a calm, relaxing space. Try to take away stress reminders and instead replace them with things you associate with calmness or compassion – music, smells, pictures etc. This is where you give yourself time each day just to focus on self-care, breathing slowly and gently, either using compassionate imagery or words such as affirmations – e.g. I can handle this, right now I am safe – just focus on the moment and it will pass.

So, to summarise – try to practice self-care as a starter – before you set yourself unrealistic goals that you cannot maintain and then make you feel like a failure. Start by practising regular self-compassion practices and see if there is a feeling of calmness, sense of well-being which is better for your physical and mental health and helps you to better cope – whatever the challenges in the New Year may be.

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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Desborough, Northamptonshire, NN14
Written by Wendy Castelino, CBT Therapist BABCP, EMDR, ACT, CFT, Mindfulness, Confidence
Desborough, Northamptonshire, NN14

Wendy Castelino is an accredited Cognitive Behaviour Therapist who specialises in helping people with overcoming anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and trauma. She has worked as a therapist for thirty years and her values are providing simple, effective skills-based therapy. She is developing online courses on these topics - see

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