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Are New Year’s Resolutions Bad for Mental Health?

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New Year’s Resolutions and their failure rates have become a bit of a joke in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped people from making resolutions—in fact, some people take their resolutions very seriously! But what happens if those goals and expectations aren’t met? It can result in a loss of confidence and a general deterioration of mental health.

As a mental health professional, you’re likely in the position where your clients speak about their resolutions early in the year and then speak about their failure to keep up with those resolutions a few months later. What kind of advice could you give your clients to help them make New Year’s Resolutions that are more likely to stick?

Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

One of the significant issues with many New Year’s Resolutions is that they’re far too lofty.

We’ve all known people who tend to set big resolutions, such as losing 100 lbs., making an additional $50,000, or meeting someone to fall in love and get married. Unfortunately, the odds just aren’t in their favor. That’s because those resolutions aren’t so much “goals” as they are “wishes.”

When it comes to resolutions, smaller goals are more achievable. Setting smaller goals and achieving them can create bigger positive changes over time. As a mental health professional, perhaps you could counsel your clients to scale back their resolutions to something a little more realistic. Rather than lose 100 lbs., perhaps suggest working on improving their fitness level. Rather than making an extra $50,000, they might try to build up their savings. And instead of the fairytale wedding in under 12 months, maybe they could focus on getting out into the dating scene again.

By helping your clients translate their “wishes” into more actionable goals, you can put them on the path to success while still keeping the spirit of their New Year’s Resolutions alive!

Try a New Year’s Theme Instead

In recent years, there’s been a trend that turns the idea of New Year’s Resolutions on its head. It’s called New Year’s Themes, and when done right, Themes can more positively contribute to mental health.

Rather than a vague or overly-ambitious resolution, a theme is simply a “north star” that you head towards throughout the year. It isn’t about achieving a specific goal. Instead, it’s more about keeping the general trend consistent throughout the year.

For example, let’s say that you have a client who wants to resolve to get into shape. They could say it’s going to be the “Year of Health.” Rather than worry about the general goal of getting into shape, they can instead use the theme to guide their behavior throughout the year. Even if they don’t look like a bodybuilder by December 31st, they can say that they’ve made positive changes to their lives over the last 12 months. And that’s great for their mental health!

Since themes are more about an upward trend over the year, there’s room for setbacks as part of the journey. When you experience a setback while trying to achieve a big New Year’s Resolution, it can often feel like you need to throw the whole resolution out the window, and this can contribute to feelings of failure. No matter how many missteps you make with your theme, as long as you finish the year better than you started, you can count it as a success and feel good about yourself.

If you want a more thorough overview of yearly themes, check out this video by YouTuber CGP Grey.

Keeping Track of Resolutions

A client’s New Year’s Resolution can be a helpful sign of where their head is at the end of the year for mental health professionals. For instance, if their resolution is about money, they are likely worried about their finances.

As such, this is information you need to keep track of, even long after a client may have forgotten about it. This is why Owl Practice’s Clinical Records feature can be so helpful. By putting those New Year’s Resolutions into your clinical notes, you can go back and reference that information whenever you see a client. Everything is automatically organized by date, so you can find that info quickly.

New Year’s Resolutions can be useful tools if looked at in the right light. When guiding your clients toward healthy resolutions, try to avoid any “fail states.” Instead, guide them towards longer-term goals that they can work on throughout the year.

And if you’re looking for a super achievable New Year’s Resolution of your own, why not entirely revamp your practice management by working with Owl Practice? With our client management features, invoicing options, industry-leading security, and video therapy tools, your mental health practice could be operating at peak efficiency in no time!

If you’d like to experience everything that Owl Practice has to offer, we invite you to start a free trial or book a demo today! And if you have any questions or comments about our services, please contact us at support@owlpractice.com. Trying Owl Practice for free is one of the best possible ways to start the new year!

As Always,

Practice Wisely

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