The New Year is upon us which means people are making resolutions. Save money, exercise more, follow a new life plan, drink less alcohol, contemplate a career change, save more money….the list goes on. There Is a temptation to spend January overwhelming yourself with thoughts of change, rules, regulations and also a tendency to lean towards restrictions and limitations.
A lot of the time changes and goals are based upon the expectations of others and we are often driven by a need to conform to societal norms. The problem is we end up feeling disappointed and down on ourselves when we fail to stick to the rules we have set and this perpetuates feelings of failure and inadequacy.
New Year’s Day has become symbolic as the day to clean the slate. A time to look behind and see what we may have done wrong and now to change it. A time to look ahead and try and change things for the better. A time to make new promises. But far too often we put too much pressure on ourselves to pull it all together for the New Year.
For many the New Year brings a sense of hope for a better future. It can represent a chance to start something new and to leave unwanted memories behind. It can also be a difficult time for many people. When it comes to New Year’s Eve people everywhere appear to be happy, smiling and laughing. This picture often reflects how people think things should be. But take away the fireworks, the celebrations, the countdowns and the half-hearted resolutions – then what are we left with…ourselves and our thoughts.
The New Year can be a trigger for what is lost, not just what is surrounding us. It can bring up painful and complex emotions and make us miss those who aren’t with us anymore and reminisce about how things used to be which can be very difficult to deal with.
For people suffering with depression, anxiety or mental health problems New Year can bring up feelings of loneliness, stress and anxiety. Images of other people enjoying themselves, either in day to day life or on social media can create a sense of emptiness. Resolution season can also be particularly hard for someone living with an eating disorder. With so many people pledging to lose weight and eat healthier eating disorder sufferers can feel pressured to do the same. But a seemingly simple resolve to become healthier or lose a bit of weight can quickly become a downward spiral if taken to extreme measures.
The reality is there are no shortcuts and we can’t escape our feelings or our emotions. It’s ok to find the New Year difficult and it’s ok not to have it all together every minute of every day. Making mistakes means we are learning and living and that is what makes us human. If you are struggling with how you are feeling then try to talk to someone you trust, and seek counselling if it feels right. Finding someone with who you can say how you feel and just be heard without being judged can be very comforting.
So how about for this year you allow you to be you? Let go of the expectations and try to be encouraged by who you are today. Focus on a one step at a time approach and do what YOU want and what makes YOU happy, and above all….. be kind to yourself.