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Alternative New Year's Resolutions for Mental Health | Matt Sloan
person holding sparkler in evening light in countryside for new year's celebrations and resolutions

What I’m Doing This Year Instead of New Year’s Resolutions

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You might not have noticed, but it’s 2019 now. This means, by some kind of sorcery imbued in the movement of the Earth around the Sun, everyone gets a new start for some reason. All last year’s fuck-ups are forgotten, erased… right?

Well, kind of. I don’t know why, but I feel somewhat refreshed by the shift into 2019, even while my rational mind strives to tell me it’s all the same and change can come at any time. That said, it’s motivating, isn’t it? Feeling like what happened last year can stay in last year, and the 12 months ahead are filled with hitherto unforeseen opportunity.

It’s a simultaneously thrilling and dangerous time of year. We can be tempted to make all kinds of outlandish promises, like learning a new language, or befriend a shark, or renounce all worldly possessions and vow a life of silence in a mountain cave somewhere.

Maybe not those last two.

And if you are aiming high this year, the more power to you. Go for it. Reach for the stars; climb every mountain higher. Cheesy 00s pop songs aside, I respect anyone who goes big or goes home. Me? The higher I aim, the more likely I’ll probably fail… and fall. That’s why I wanted to do something new this year. Starting here, with this blog entry. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I’m aiming for some New Year’s Try-and-Sees.

New Year’s Try-And-Sees 2019

Like it? I just came up with it, and it’s pretty lame. But this is what I’m going to aim for this glorious year. I’m going to try and reach these goals, and I’m going to try and not beat myself up for not succeeding. More on that in a minute.

1. Blog more.

This would help.

Here we are, at the beginning. For as long as blogs have been a thing — anyone remember Livejournal and its gothic cousin, Deadjournal? — I’ve promised myself I’d write more blogs and then I’ve almost immediately failed. I’m pretty sure there’s one or two entries on this very blog that promise the same.

This year, starting now, I’m aiming for a blog entry a week. Just one. If I do two, then that’ll be awesome. If I do more, then something’s probably wrong and you should check up on me because I’m either not sleeping or ignoring some other responsibility. I’m going to try and keep myself accountable… but if I miss a week, I hope you’ll poke me into writing something. Some entries might be nonsense. Just don’t be expecting me to win the Pulitzer.

2. Edit the damn novel.

… and maybe room and board with Annie Wilkes?

Here we go. After working on The Shadows At Sunrise for so long, I’ve let it fall by the wayside more times than I care to admit. Sure, there’s been legitimate reasons — grief, self-esteem, depression — but I can’t keep putting it off. Not to set too much in store by this year, and not to be dramatic, but I feel like this is my last chance to Get It Done. And in order to Get It Done, I need to utilise some new skills. More on that later in this entry.

I have a brilliant mentor, and I feel like I’m in a good place to get cracking. All that’s left is the cracking. Oh, and I’ll be doing my best to chart my progress on the blog. [See point 1.]

3. Get physically healthy.

Exactly like this.

This is more of a traditional “resolution,” but I’m really out of shape. I’m the heaviest I’ve been, and my physical appearance is beginning to negatively impact my already-broken self-esteem even more than it used to. I need to get to a point where I can actually stand to look at my full naked-as-the-day-I-was-born appearance in the mirror without feeling shame and disgust. And, I feel the need to say at this point, you do you. I’m hugely in favour of self-love as a necessity of living healthily. If you’re happy with your appearance, then you’ll find no judgment from me. However, at this point, I really wanna get back to a healthy place.

Doing this won’t be easy. In many ways, I still live like I have the metabolism of a teenager. Rest assured, I’m trying to do it all as safely as possible: regular exercise, watch what I eat, count calories based on what my body needs for my weight… you know, the safe ways. I’ll probably write a bit about this in future entries too, so keep ‘em peeled.

4. Get mentally healthy.

… not like this.

Speaking of getting healthy (segue), my mental health sucks. Between depression, anxiety, personality disorder stuff, ADHD, terrible self-esteem and self-worth, self-hatred… yeah, I can’t go on, right now.

I’m due to start a long course of therapy in about six months — likely cognitive behavioural therapy, maybe schema therapy. Psychotherapy of some description. Point is, I have a lot to unpack in therapy and it’s going to take a while to do it, but I need to start. Self-esteem is one of the biggest priorities. For reasons I hope to write about soon, my self-esteem couldn’t be much lower than it is. I’m too used to beating myself up, and it needs to stop. I’m going to be starting some self-esteem self-help books soon, too. I hope they help.

5. Spend more time reading.

As if I was going to pick any other GIF. Smashing.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I gotta read more. I tend to choose other things instead, like scrolling through social media and comparing my life to that of infinitely more successful people. Track my progress on Goodreads maybe!

6. Mindfulness.

Like breathing, but more metal.

Okay, so this ties into point 4, but it’s big enough that it warrants a point all of its own. I’ve recently tried to incorporate mindfulness into my day when I find myself having an anxiety attack, or getting lost in negative self-talk, or generally struggling with depression and bad memories. I’ll save the technique details for a future blog post. [Oh Matt, you tease.]

Wrapping Up

This, I hope, will be the first of many entries this year. I’m going to, y’know… try-and-see. I could’ve let the “New Year, New Me” ritual pass me by, but this represents a fantastic opportunity to try and get shit done. After all, apparently writing done your goal or sharing it with others increases the chance of success. Or something. I don’t know who said that.

What are you aiming for this year? Let me know in the comments!

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