Why I’m saying no to resolutions


January 3, 2014 by talkaboutyork

I had the luxury of sitting in the hairdressers for about three hours this morning. I got to sip on lattes and read magazines while someone played with my hair. Bliss.

While I was flicking through the magazines, I found a huge number of articles about new year resolutions: how to get fit, how to lose the weight for good this time, how to take up some worthwhile cause, how to be a better friend/wife/mother. It was exhausting to read. There were even articles on how we need not beat ourselves up if we can’t stick to our resolutions. And of course there were all those stories of amazing people who had had some tragedy befall them only to turn their lives around and are now living the ultimate dream.

I am convinced that women’s magazines are in cahoots with the self-help book and mental health industries. They all seem designed to make you feel worse about yourself than before you started reading them.

However, there was one magazine which had uplifting material in it, some genuinely useful tips (so useful I took snapshots of the relevant pages with my phone). The best bit of advice I read about resolutions was to simply never use the word resolution. A resolution means an end. A better way to say it is to ‘make a decision’. That is a far more powerful and positive way of looking at things. It means you move forward, rather than stopping.

Instead of making a resolution to lose weight, you could make a positive decision to eat so that you feel better about yourself. Last January I promised myself that I will NEVER again go on a diet in this bleak, grey month while beating myself up about not exercising all while avoiding alcohol to wash away the misery of it all.

This year I have decided to be positive and do things that I know will make me happier. So for example, I have just baked a banana bread. This has made me happy because it smells lovely, I’ve used up some brown bananas that would otherwise have gone in the bin, I feel a tiny bit domestic and I can enjoy a slice in a moment with a cup of tea. It’s a small treat that will make me feel happier. It won’t help me shift the Christmas weight, but I’m not going to pressurise myself to starve. I am forty. I want to be fit and healthy, but I accept that my body is not that of my twenty one year old self. And that’s ok.

I also went running yesterday. It was hell. First run in a year. But after the first five minutes of wanting to cut my legs off and getting a lung transplant, I could feel the endorphins kick in. And it made me feel happier.

I also did two jobs yesterday that I hate doing. I cleaned out the fridge and the oven. God awful tasks, but for an hour and a half I cleaned with gusto while listening to some good music. And now when I open the fridge, I smile as its gleaming shelves sparkle at me and when I cook without billows of smoke coming from the cooker, I feel happy.

After recovering from my run and cleaning efforts, I sat on the sofa flicking through the local York magazine and noticed an ad for a blood donor clinic. And instead of thinking, you know I really should do that and then do nothing about it, I registered there and then and got myself an appointment. That small step felt powerful and positive. As did finding out about a fundraising walk which will be a really fun night out with a group of mates. Tick and tick again. Two more things to make me feel happy.

And today, at the hairdresser, I decided that I could keep my old, safe hairstyle or I could just chop it off and be different. I now sport short hair. I don’t care how it looks. Because if feels great.

So this is how I plan to live this year. I am going to keep making small decisions to be happy, rather than resolving to change who I am.

Because (and here’s something I’ve debated revealing)…. who I am is someone who has lived with depression for years, without fully realising it or refusing to acknowledge it. But I am making a decision to fight it without medication and to simply do things that I know will make me happier:

– eat healthily yet happily

– drink less

– exercise more

– laugh

– make small goals to get a sense of achievement

– get back to work

As the saying goes: depression is not a sign of weakness. It means you have been strong for too long. I have a made a decision to accept that how I have felt for years is not normal. But that I can change it, simply by doing things that make me feel happier.

So that is what I plan on doing in 2014. I know that when the black clouds roll in, it will be hard to hang onto this decision, but I’m going to just take each day as it comes. And if at the end of year, I look back and see that I was generally happier, then it will have been the first step towards success.





9 thoughts on “Why I’m saying no to resolutions

  1. Lynette says:

    What a great decision! Doing things that make you happy or feel better is a great way to take care of YOU. I understand about depression, it can hit at odd times and for me I never realize I was in it until I am on the other side. Have a great 2014!

  2. Emma-Jayne Bailey says:

    Wow – well done you..hubby suffers with depression and it is awful to watch and try to understand/support. I think that more people need to be open like you and talk about it. He is now quite open about telling people and saying he is on medication (has tried loads of other ways to come to terms with it but so far only the meds touch the sides!). I went to Al Anon as my late Dad was an alcoholic (and died from alcoholism) and this really helped as it is a support group for the families of alcoholics. I have done some research into whether such a group exists for relatives of those with depression but so far no luck….I often think that I should do more and start one…

    • You’re right EJ – there really should be a group that helps families. I’m glad that he feels ok talking about it. Not sure why it should be something to be ashamed of yet it feels that way. x

  3. So sorry to hear that this is what you are battling. Thinking of you, Dxx

  4. Iota says:

    Great post. I like the “decision vs resolution” distinction.

    Don’t battle depression on your own, though. There’s so much wisdom out there to save you reinventing the wheel.

    And (dare I say) don’t set your mind 100% against medication. For me (and I think many others), it has been something that felt like a huge deal in advance and at the time, but now I look back on it, it seems like no big deal at all. And I found it significant to admit that it was ok to need help… even medical help… That was the big deal for me, and doing that seemed to unlock other pathways to health. (Haven’t explained that very well, but I guess if you’re in a similar place it will make sense, and if you’re not, then it won’t speak to you anyway!)

    • I think for me Iota, I can’t quite accept that this is depression as there are times when I feel fine. Maybe that’s how depression works. I do know that how I feel isn’t normal though. I need to read all the wisdom out there.

      I have had a doctor suggest I go on meds should I want to, but for whatever reason, I’m not comfortable doing it. I haven’t ruled them out entirely but for now I want to try and see if I can manage it naturally.

      I understand what you are saying about admitting you need help. I feel I have made progress by admitting something isn’t right. I haven’t quite reached the point of accepting medical help for it yet though. Not sure what I am afraid of but I am.


  5. I like the decision not resolution idea. And I think January is an awful month for resolutions anyway, especially if you are suffering from depression (which I think it’s great that you admitted). I’ve also been down that road in the past year, as a result of chronic pain, and it’s a terribly difficult thing to admit to. If you can find ways to deal with it out without medication, then that’s fantastic – personally I’ve found the meds only give me unwanted side effects, although I have no doubt they work for many people. But seeing a pyschologist might be helpful as a first step – it can’t do any harm, anyway.

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