Beka beats the New Year blues

Beka beats the New Year blues

21 January 2021

Research conducted by Strava (a running app) using over 800 million user-logged activities in 2019 predicts the day most people are likely to give up on their New Year’s Resolutions is January 19. We are now three weeks into January and so far the start to 2021 is as unprecedented as 2020 was and we kick off the year living under the restrictions of a third national lockdown- does this mean that our resolutions for 2021 will be even harder to stick to?

The 1st January of any year is as good a time as any to aim to introduce new habits or set ourselves new goals … and credit to you for looking ahead and being motivated to do things for you.

But just as they can be motivating, new year’s resolutions can easily be damaging to our mental well-being. Certainly in my experience and the experience of some of my friends and family, the things that we aim to change, or rather the dos and don’ts we commit to live by, are easily influenced by social media and the people around us … and perhaps the worst influencer of all … targeted advertising. Does anyone else notice that around new year your feed becomes full of fitness and diet subscriptions being offered at discounted rates for January? 

My main concern about new year’s resolutions is that in committing to them, we try and commit to a new improved perfect version of ourselves that simply isn’t realistic or possible to just suddenly become. Many people aren’t aware that perfectionism is a recognised mental health condition. This short animated video produced by York St John University explains a bit more about Perfectionism and how it can affect us

The link between New Year’s resolutions and perfectionism is that if we don’t stick to our new year’s resolutions (which often involve a big change to the way we lead our lives day to day, often with new exercise routines or diets) then we feel like we have failed and think negatively about our abilities to be a successful person.

In 2019 I stopped setting new year’s resolutions and it was a simple magazine article that stopped me in my tracks and helped me make that decision … it just made so much sense! Ironically I found it whilst trying to research what diet and exercise regime was going to make this the year that I finally lost five stone and could lift heavy things and put them back down again with style worthy of my Instagram feed.

At this point my research took on a new direction and I moved towards identifying goals for myself – these goals represented a journey towards building new habits into my routine rather than making abrupt changes. It became a learning journey where the times that I didn’t succeed taught me as much about myself and the challenges I faced in my day to day routine as the days where I did manage to fulfil my aims.

I also cleared out my social media feed and swapped the influencers and diet brands for more credible sources of information and inspiration. Here are five Instagram accounts I follow for advice, positivity and self love:

@Drjuliesmith – She is a psychologist and provides fun tips and facts on how our brains work and how we can realistically reach our goals. She also gives insight into how you can spot if you your mental well-being isn’t as good as it could be.

@wearefeelgoodclub- The mission of this account is to make you feel good

@i_weigh – I Weigh is about inclusivity- it aims to advocate on topics and people so no one feels alone.

@theblurtfoundation – a dedicated mental health charity- lots of hints, tips and reassurance

@lucysheridan – a comparison coach ‘serving truth serum daily’

MindSpace continues to run a programme of activities that can help you reach some of your new year goals with sessions on nutrition and mindfulness as well as activities like yoga and boxing – whatever your goal, connecting with people and learning something new are ingredients proven to lift your mental wellbeing and are endorsed by the NHS.

We are all different and have different ways of bringing about changes – and this year in particular we are in a pandemic so you need to be extra kind to yourself!

Beka Avery
Trustee – Supporting our 18-25s