New Year New Me, Or Does It Have to Be?

By Bethany Wilshaw

The lingering smell of spiced cinnamon scented candles begin to waver. The sound of clinking glasses toasting to yuletide cheer falter and the weeks which bring the heady mix of food and alcohol are now just a memory of last year. Christmas and it’s true spirit of abundance are well and truly over.

Welcome to January.

Que the influencers and their flat tummy tea advertisements. Protein shakes appear clutched in the hands of the insta famous. Fancy notebooks which list new year goals can be seen against strategically placed monochromatic flatlays in nearly every instagram post. It’s that time of the year, ‘new year new me’ or does it have to be?

Each year in the month of January, millions of people all over the world begin setting new year’s resolutions. Amongst the most common are: to eat healthier, drink less alcohol and exercise more. These are the types of resolutions that can have a positive impact on not only your physical health but your mental health too. But what happens if we fall off the waggon? Could it result in leaving you feeling like a failure? And how does that affect a person’s mental health?

According to “Every year millions of people make resolutions yet almost 80% of us fail to achieve them. Most of us strive for unrealistic goals and ultimately set ourselves up for failure.”

Typically, when it comes to the new year, people’s interest in food, fitness and health increases. In January each year, google searches for the word ‘gym membership’ peak. According to the Fitness Industry Association around 12% of gym goers in the UK sign up during the post-festive period and after 24 weeks, a high number of members quit when they aren’t tied into a 6 month contract anymore.

We’ve all heard of ‘the January blues’ and this month is home to Blue Monday, the third Monday of the post-festive month. It has been claimed to be the most depressing day of the year, so it’s clear to see why people begin setting new life goals, resolutions and plans to get through the month.

30 year old Chloe Wood of Sheffield says: “The pressure to ‘better’ ourselves means you have to subscribe to the view there’s something wrong with yourself in the first place.”

Chloe’s quote brings me to the question, Do we actually need to better ourselves in the first place? With January comes the pressure to be a ‘better you’, but what if the old you was just as good?

While some resolutions can have a positive impact on your life, the failure of keeping them can lead to mental health issues in the future. Artist, Becky Handler said: “ I think the main thing is trying to not view a step back as complete failure and just a part of the process.”

This ‘new year new me’ pressure comes from all sides of the table. We see adverts for calorie controlled meal plans on tv, you can’t walk through a busy town center anymore without having a leaflet advertising £10 a month gym memberships shoved into your face and every other ‘public figure’ on instagram is telling you to become a clean eating, green juice drinking robot. The key to setting goals is to try your best, but don’t over push yourself.

19 year old Student/ Writer, Leon Othenin-Girad said: “It all depends on the goals you set, I think. Of course, any goal you set can put you under pressure, but knowing your limits and setting your goal accordingly is the way to succeeding at them and not pushing yourself too much. On the other hand, taking them as a joke works, too.”

If the new year inspires you to make positive changes then that’s great, but just remember: it doesn't matter how small your steps are, what matters is that you’re trying your best to take them. You’re only human and sometimes we fall off the waggon, but you are by no means a failure.

Give yourself the credit you deserve.

You’re doing the best you can.