The new year brings with it a pressure to come up with a handful of new year’s resolutions. Around this time of year we’re bombarded with the ‘new year new me’ narrative and the pressure to commit ourselves to a year of self-betterment. Some people may find this time of year brings up feelings of inadequacy and a pressure to radically change who they are. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to succumb to the pressure to change any aspects of yourself or your life — you are perfect exactly as you are.
Other people may find the prospect of a new year’s resolution comforting as it presents the opportunity to start afresh, and provides goals to focus on. It’s important to make sure that these goals are realistic and are set with the intention of creating a happier and healthier life. They must come from a place of self-love rather than self-criticism. In this post, we’ve outlined some suggestions for realistic new year’s resolutions that focus on personal growth and self love.
Work on body positivity:
Within the ‘new year new me’ narrative, a huge emphasis is placed on dieting, exercise and creating new, thinner bodies. Whilst men are also subject to this narrative, for the most part it’s disproportionately targeted at women. It can be really difficult not to internalise such messages, especially when they feel so loud around this time of year. Instead of resolving to change your body, why not try committing to celebrating it?
Healthy comes in all shapes and sizes and it’s not just one body type. Companies have made us think that only one size is beautiful and healthy because it allows them to sell us products that promise to make us look like it. But your body is so much more than ornamental. It is what allows you to do your favourite hobby, to hug your loved ones, and it has carried you through a really difficult and challenging year. Please remember this whenever you feel insecure or critical about your body. One way we can practice body positivity is by committing to look in the mirror each day and list three things we like about ourselves, or three ways our body has helped us that day. That way we change our internal narrative from critiquing our body to celebrating it.
Commit more time to self-care:
Another healthy resolution to commit to is dedicating more time to self care. Self care is defined as ‘the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health’. For most of us the phrase self care conjures up images of bubble baths, candles and face masks. If you have time to practice this act of self care and it makes you feel relaxed and well-rested, it’s a wonderful idea to carve out time in your weekly routine to dedicate to this or doing something that you enjoy.
It’s also important to remember that self care incorporates some less enjoyable and more challenging aspects too. To practice self care is to work on our relationships with ourselves, which is an ongoing and at times difficult process. In order to work on this process this year, we could choose a realistic resolution that targets one of these more difficult aspects such as ‘I want to try to say sorry less’, ‘I want to practice being more honest about my thoughts and feelings’ or ‘I want to try to get better at saying ‘no’ to things that don’t bring me happiness’. These things are really hard to do so don’t feel guilty if you don’t manage to do them all the time, but committing to trying our best with them is a really great first step and a brilliant foundation for creating a happier and healthier relationship with ourselves.
Take up a hobby that brings you joy:
Many of us see the turn of a new year offering an opportunity to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby. This can be a really great thing for our mental health because it provides us with a goal to focus on and something to pour our energy into. At Cardiff Women’s Aid we offer skills sharing workshops for women covering a range of different interests from cooking to blogging. If you’re struggling to decide what new hobby to take up, why not come along to one of our skills sharing workshops in the new year? This could be a nice way of trying out a new activity in a safe, comfortable environment and may help you to determine whether you’d like to commit more time to it.
It’s important to maintain a healthy mindset when trying something new and to be realistic about our abilities. Even the greatest was once a beginner and we mustn’t put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect at something immediately. However, if you don’t enjoy an activity as much as you thought you would, there’s no pressure to stick with it. Making a resolution to start a new hobby rather than specifying a specific hobby will help to alleviate pressure and allow you to find something you really enjoy. Committing to take up a hobby that brings you joy will ensure that the focus remains on how you feel when you’re partaking in an activity, not how good you perceive yourself to be at it.
Try to spend more time outside:
Another resolution that may help to improve our happiness is committing to spending more time outside. Spending time outside can help to alleviate stress, elevate our mood and make us feel more grounded. This year, many of us have found spending time in nature to be crucial for maintaining good mental health. You could set a new year’s resolution of trying to get outside at least every other day, whether that’s going for a walk on your lunch break or even just sitting outside with a cup of tea.
Do some volunteering/get involved with some activism:
Helping others is a great way to make us feel happier and improve our mental health and wellbeing. One way that we can help others this year is committing to get involved with some volunteering or activism. The pandemic has meant that charities have had to radically adapt how they provide vital services to their clients and many are looking for remote volunteers to help them continue their essential work. If you feel able to, you could commit some time to doing some remote volunteering for a charity. Here at Cardiff Women’s Aid we have a variety of different volunteering opportunities from running skills sharing workshops for other women, to writing social media posts and participating in our campaigns group.
If you’re unable to commit time to volunteering, you could set a goal of buying three small items for the food bank collection every time you go shopping, or dedicating some time each week to read and sign petitions. No actionable step is too small. For more advice on getting started with activism or volunteering you can check out our beginner’s guide to activism here.
- Bethan Gilson, CWA Volunteer