How to make positive resolutions and tackle the new year blues
New Year’s Eve is the night where we put humongous amounts of pressure on ourselves to have the most incredible time possible... we’re even told that if we’re super lucky we might get a kiss at midnight. But, how many of us really have the best night of our lives? Apparently not many. We'll run through why this might be the case, as well as how we can make new years resolutions that are scientifically proven to bring us more happiness in the year ahead.
Why do I dread New Year's Eve?
a) Too much pressure
One reason for this could be the ‘broken promises effect’. Unrealistically high expectations can easily lead us to feel as though things should be better than they are. It’s hard not for the night to be anticlimactic if we have so much pressure surrounding it. So, if you fall victim to this, you are most certainly not alone. It’s important to remember that it’s just one night. Just a mere 0.273972603% of your whole year. As hard as it might be, actively try to remember that it doesn’t have a huge bearing on your year, or your life. Don’t stress and try to shake off some of that pesky pressure.
b) Feeling unsuccesful
If you weren't able to complete last years resolutions or goals this can also add to feelings of disappointment. Resolutions are a tricky one. The bigger and tougher they are, the more unachievable they can be and the more they can mentally tire us out. Instead of thinking about what you perceive to be the negatives of the past year, put effort into thinking of what you're proud of, and what learnings you'd like to take into the new year. Try our exercise below if you're interested in delving a little deeper 👇
Get out a few pieces of paper (and a pen) and get ready to answer some questions!
Reflections on your past year:
What are your proudest achievements this year?
What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt this year?
What are the beliefs and stories that you are holding on to but know you should let go of?
Who had the biggest positive impact on you this year and how did they make you feel?
Planning for your upcoming year:
Who and how would you like to be in the next year?
What would you like more of in 2021?
What can you do more of that brings you energy and joy?
What will you stop doing?
How can I set better resolutions?
We all love fresh starts. It's one of the main lures of New year's Eve as it gives us an opportunity to reflect and refresh. As part of this process, it's become common to set ourselves goals in the form of 'resolutions'. Goals can be really effective ways of propelling ourselves forwards and achieving success. However, choosing the wrong goals can limit our motivation, be overwhelming and leave us feeling useless.
2020 has been a hard year for everyone. We shouldn't feel the need to pressure ourselves into various unapproachable goals which will all require much more dedication than we can realistically give. So, we thought we'd share some friendly (and scientifically proven) resolutions you can incorporate into your 2021 to make it a happier year.
In 2021 I will:
Increase my movement Did you know that exercising has been proven to reduce both anxiety and depression? Just 30 mins of moderate-intensity exercise for 3 days a week is enough to give you these health benefits. You don't have to train for a half-marathon or do HIIT every day of the week ... all you have to do is get moving! Gardening, walking, dancing, cycling, and swimming all count. What's even better is that it doesn't have to be continuous! For example, three 10-minute brisk walks per day are believed to be as equally beneficial as one 30-minute walk.
Get outside more Being immersed in, or simply taking more notice of, nature around you reduces your cortisol levels (your stress hormone) and increases your endorphin and dopamine levels (which promote happiness). You don't need to go up a mountain or walk along a beach (although we highly recommend it if you can) as you can reap the benefits from something as simple as noticing the trees on your street. Take a few minutes to take in the shapes, sounds and smells around you.
Remember to practice gratitude Gratitude changes the way we interpret the world around us as we shift our focus from what we don't have, to what we do. It directly takes you on a journey away from negative thinking and makes it much harder to ruminate (have looping thoughts) on negative experiences. When you notice that you're slipping into autopilot mode, or that negative thoughts are sneaking into your head, remind yourself in that very moment to be aware of what is around you. Ask yourself "what are three things I am grateful for right now?".
Face up to challenging situations Rather than avoiding them - say yes instead of no. Situations aren't going to just disappear because we don't take notice of them, instead they'll more than likely get worse. Facing difficult situations head on increases your resilience (your ability to adapt well in the face of adversity and bounce back from challenges). There will be challenges in any year but by building up our positivity AND our resilience means that we will get through them a whole lot easier.
We've been through a heavy year in 2020 and we all deserve to cut ourselves some slack. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter if you dropped a few pounds or did yoga every day. This New Year we deserve to have a little fun without all of the expectations and pressures.... even if we're celebrating it alone! We also deserve to give ourselves some positive, happiness-inducing resolutions. Happy New Year everyone 🥂 If you'd like to read more on how to support yourself this festive period check out our tips on how to cope with a 2020 Christmas here.