Making new year's resolutions is easier than sticking to them. In fact, studies have shown that 80% of new year's resolutions fail within the first few months.
I spent new year's day, as I have done for as long as I can remember, nursing an absolutely killer hangover. A Prosecco hangover. The banging headache and tenuously mumbled "I'll never drink again" made Dry January seem all the more appealing. It had been a small challenge I had planned to undertake alongside several friends and family members. Good riddance hangovers. Hello new year!
January looked like it might be gloomy, and looming exams amidst a third national lockdown seemed like the perfect time to reset my relationship with booze.
Or not. It lasted a week before I was staring down the bottom of an empty wineglass. My lack of willpower paired with my pretty awful period cramps left me feeling low. I felt, and still feel, extremely guilty. How had I fallen off the wagon so quickly? I beat myself up over it. I'm still beating myself up over it. I feel like I've started the new year as a failure. And I'm not alone.
New year's resolutions, despite existing to promote healthy behaviours and kick bad habits, can be a source of stress in themselves. The excessive pressure is entirely unhealthy. There is pressure to stick to your goals, no matter how unrealistic and unattainable they are. Self-esteem takes a complete dive when you fail. Giving up entirely can leave you feeling hopeless. Resolutions represent some small step in our self-improvement plan, but they can be equally damaging to our mental health.
This past year has been particularly tough for everyone without the added pressure of new year's resolutions. Making them is okay, but so is breaking them. In failing Dry January I set a new goal. Be kinder to myself. I broke a resolution, but there is no point beating myself up about it. I slipped up and that's fine. I tried and sometimes that is simply enough. I don't feel bad about giving up, I see the good in the fact that I, and so many others, attempted to change.
If you've made twenty resolutions and are struggling with the pressure of sticking to them, rethink your goals. Change them around you. Or break them if they're causing damage. Be kind to yourself and don't neglect your feelings for the sake of a few resolutions.