Life&Style Writer Amy Larsen discusses the impact of new year’s resolutions and why it’s important to take a step back from the pressure of self-improvement
Midnight on 1st January is possibly the only day that anyone seems to enjoy in the whole month of January. New Year gives us something to look forward to in the days after Christmas, as we recover from the hectic celebrations. Although it can be an exciting time of setting resolutions and fantasising about the healthier, more productive person we are going to become in the New Year, it can also be a very self-critical period. Advertisers latch onto any guilt we may feel about our indulgence over the Christmas holiday and begin to bombard us with weight loss tips and gym membership deals, promoting the narrative that we should want to improve every part of ourselves in 2020. The overarching message is that there is something wrong with who we are, right now, as we are.
However, recently there has been a pushback on the idea that a new year requires a new and upgraded version of yourself. Instead, self-acceptance and self-love is increasingly being promoted. Whilst some influencers are continuing to use Facetune and other editing apps to maintain the façade of a perfect life, others have gone against this and #newyearsameme has been circulating around social media.
Body positivity and mental health awareness advocates are increasing as is the need for self-care. Actress and radio presenter, Jameela Jamil has become a passionate supporter of the body positivity movement, founding @i_weigh on Instagram. This champions the message that our value and self-worth comes from who are and not how much we weigh or how we look. It has been very successful and the account now boasts 992k followers on Instagram. On New Year’s day @i_weigh introduced a campaign in which followers were able to pledge what they aim to do in 2020 to make a difference, by using #iwill. The post suggested that we say ‘no to unrealistic new year resolutions’ and ‘no to diets and detox products’. It promoted greater inclusivity by pledging to support groups such as the transgender and disabled community as well as many more.
Bestselling author, Matt Haig has also been outspoken in his support for self-acceptance and the need for wider mental health awareness. His views tie into the idea of ‘New Year, Same Me’. On New Year’s Eve he tweeted ‘You don’t need a new you. You don’t need replacing every year like another iphone’, Haig called for people to ‘Love the old you’. This is a sentiment which can be easily lost in today’s fast paced society, which focuses on always wanting more. It is important to be grateful for who you are today and be proud of how far you have come. Haig has been candid when discussing his own struggles with anxiety and depression in his books, Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet. With around 1 in 4 people in the UK being likely to experience a mental health issue each year, it is more important than ever to look after ourselves in 2020 and be gentle with how much pressure we put on ourselves to achieve perfection.
Granted, it can be great to strive to do better and accomplish more in the New Year, having a realistic goal to work towards can be a positive driving force in each of our lives. However, it is just as important to remind yourself that everything you have experienced up until now, everything you have and all you have achieved has made you into the person you are today, don’t simply discard yourself because it is a new year. Remembering your value amidst the clutter of countless dieting advice and weight loss adverts is somewhat a rebellious act. Be kind to yourself this year.