BLOG: This New Year, let's resolve to Choose Kindness for ourselves and others
Posted: Tue, 9 Jan 2024 12:31
Holly Campbell, Public Health Improvement Coordinator, Doncaster Council looks at the pressure and often ineffectiveness of new year's resolutions and suggests a kinder and more compassionate approach to setting ourselves health and wellbeing goals, should we wish to do so...
A recent article on BBC News asked: "Why do people always wait until January to get fit?". There is a lot of pressure in the New Year to overhaul our health and fitness. This can be a positive thing, when the fresh start of a new year is used as motivation, however this all-or-nothing attitude can lead to people setting unrealistic targets that are motivated by guilt or shame, resulting in negative physical and mental health outcomes.
A survey completed by over 2,000 adults in the UK last year, found that the most popular new year's resolution was to lose weight. This resolution even beat more fitness-focused resolutions, such as being more physically active. Sometimes, improving our body image can coincide with improving our health, but there is also a risk that a preoccupation with body image, weight, or appearance, can negatively impact our health and wellbeing.
We know that body image can be an issue for young people too. Our 2023 Pupil Lifestyle Survey told us that, for secondary school children in Doncaster who do not enjoy physical activity, one of the top reasons (39%) for this is due to feeling shy about their bodies. The amount of primary school children who cite this reason is lower (28%), but it is still present. This shows that body image can actually be a barrier for engaging in health-promoting behaviours, such as physical activity.
We want to continue to encourage health-promoting behaviours, such as increasing physical activity levels and eating a varied diet, without using negative motivations, such as guilt, shame, or social pressure. We know that feelings of shame can contribute to poor mental and physical health outcomes, as well as negatively impacting residents' relationship with food and exercise. Instead, where we do want to set targets and make improvements, it should come from a place of self-care and love. This will also make it more likely that we stick to our resolutions.
It's not just our body image where we can be hard on ourselves – it could also be our financial situation, our personal relationships, or any number of other things. For this New Year, let's resolve to Choose Kindness for ourselves and others throughout the year. By being more compassionate with ourselves, we can consider the things in our life that we really value, and set more manageable goals for the New Year.
For support in setting New Year's Resolutions, you can check out the YourLifeDoncaster Wellbeing page for some handy resources and more information: Wellbeing - YourLifeDoncaster
If you want to be more physically active this year, then find activities near you on our Let's Get Moving page: Let's Get Moving! | Get Doncaster Moving