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31st January 2017

New Year, miserable you?

We discuss how New Year’s resolutions can do more harm than good, and why you shouldn’t wait till January 1st to make changes

When the clock ticks over to midnight on the 1st of January each new year, we’re all programmed to start thinking about ‘fresh starts’ in which we can cast aside the excess and laziness of the Christmas season and remake ourselves into better people. However, this idea can be damaging and leave us with a feeling of failure, as 43% of people in the UK break their New Year resolutions within the first month. By putting huge amounts of pressure on ourselves, we end up unable to fulfil unattainable promises to ourselves. Surely it’s better to implement changes one at a time when you feel ready rather than waiting for one particular date or a new year to make a ton of resolutions you could never hope to keep?

Many of the most common New Year resolutions revolve around weight loss and fitness. While these resolutions are often made with the best of intentions, they are hard to keep and often encourage unhealthy behaviour, as we pressure ourselves to achieve too much too quickly.

January is one of the hardest times of the year for people recovering from eating disorders and many argue that the constant bombardment of messages about diet and exercise throughout the first month of the year can even encourage disordered eating. Some feel that the media chastise us for the amount we eat and drink during December and attempt to shame us into diets and intense exercise regimes.

Perhaps it would be better for everyone if we encouraged self-love and acceptance all year round and encouraged people to make changes to their lifestyles in order to make themselves feel healthier and more vibrant, rather than focussing so intently on appearance. The body positivity movement has really sky-rocketed in the last year, and online personalities such as bodyposipanda (Megan Jayne Crabb) use social media in order to spread messages about self-acceptance and recovery from eating disorders.

For people who want to lose weight for health reasons or just because they want to be more active and feel healthier, it can often be easier to make these changes throughout the year without all the pressure and shaming of the post-Christmas season.

Many of the changes that people cite as their New Year’s resolutions are small things which you needn’t wait for the 1st of January to try and implement. Reminding yourself daily to try and put your all into what you do, show kindness and respect to others, and even ring your mum more often are easy little things that you can change right now and see the benefit of almost immediately.

If you reprogramme your brain into seeing each day as the brand new slate that we think of as unique to January 1st, you achieve your goals far more efficiently rather than waiting a whole year for the one day where you feel you can challenge yourself… why can’t every day be that day?

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