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Setting Achievable Intentions this New Year

When January comes around again, New Year for some is an opportunity to create some resolutions, or focus on plans for the upcoming year. However, for some it can be cause anxiety, with goals feeling overwhelming and unattainable. Dr Opie-Moran, Duchy’s Clinical Psychologist has some insights into looking after ourselves this New Year. With such busy lives, and our phones at hand to distract us every available minute, we have lost the art of spending time with ourselves and listening to and responding to our own needs. 

Getting some routines, such as meditation, yoga, a silent walk in nature or a cup of coffee with ourselves and no distractions but tuning into our inner dialogue can help. Regularly sitting quietly with ourselves gives us an opportunity to get to know and enjoy ourselves more, and to become aware of problems as they emerge rather than when they are so overwhelming we can no longer function or distract from them.  If we are not comfortable sitting in silence with our own thoughts this really is a prompt to seek some external help.

New Year’s Resolutions aren’t for everyone. For some, they can feel overwhelming but for others they can kick start motivation for the year the come. If you do want to set some intentions for the New Year, here are 3 tips: 

  • Make them really achievable in the first instance so you can build on your successes and change can take on its own momentum. Be an internal cheerleader not a critic, and encourage yourself to keep making kind and helpful choices. If you do slip up, try not to be too hard on yourself, as this is likely to have you shying away from trying again. 

  • Consider identifying a value-set to operate by, rather than a goal. If we fail at a goal (e.g. doing an exercise class every day, or giving a talk at work) it is very dispiriting, and if we have had an injury, or work circumstances change, it might not be possible. If we aim to operate whenever possible using a certain value (prioritising my well-being, or being more ambitious at work) we can adapt good choices to evolving situations.   

  • If the New Year fresh start really does help motivate you, consider a trial run in the days before to trouble shoot any problems or get yourself back on the wagon after a wobble, and adjust your expectations as needed.

If you struggle to keep your resolutions it is worth noticing why. Are little acts of self-betrayal driven by low self-worth, or are you letting yourself down by prioritising others’ needs? Are you taking on too much and getting overwhelmed? These could be helpful for identifying some healthy changes to make, and help you to continue to evolve into the person you deserve and want to be.

Remember, be kind to yourself, you're doing the best you can. 

Dr Opie Moran, Clinical Psychologist at The Duchy Hospital 


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