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Community and mental health services for Southampton, Portsmouth and parts of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.


Letting go of the pressure of resolution-setting by Adele Sales

Hello to 2024!

It’s a New Year, and with it come many things. The quietness of deep winter, the hope of the light returning, and perhaps the pressure to feel like we might need to reinvent ourselves with many strong-willed resolutions. Christmastime might bring a buzz for many, but in January we may also feel a come down from that high. So much so, that the third Monday in January is actually labelled “Blue Monday” – this year falling on Monday 15 January. ‘Blue Monday’ has been associated with feelings of sadness, low motivation, and a lack of energy, so if you’re feeling a bit low right now - you are not alone!  

This low mood that some people might feel may be also contrast to the pressure to be motivated and achieve goals, sometimes leaving us feeling worse. Others, like me, might love January. A bit of an introvert, I love the quietness of it all after the busyness and sometimes overwhelm from festivities. I like the idea that we get to “start afresh”, but I have also struggled with the disappointment that has come when I haven’t managed to live up to my fervent January resolutions. An antidote to this struggle perhaps, is to explore how we set our resolutions (and whether we even set them at all!). To maybe go a little softer and easier on ourselves at the beginning of the year – after all, the animals are still hibernating, and it’s okay if we want to do so too for a little longer.  

Choosing to reflect on all you have moved through in 2023 (not all the things you ‘didn’t do’) 
We are very quick to think of all the things we still would like to get done or achieve, in comparison to spending little time reflecting on all the things that we have worked through. Life, as we know, does not always go to our plan, and we might have set goals last year that didn’t transpire because of other things happening that required our attention. I promise that you don’t need to beat yourself with the stick of “shoulds” for all the things you wish you had done. Spend some time if you can, reflecting on all of the ups and downs of 2023 – how you grew as a person, perhaps what qualities of yours you brought into relationships with others, or how you might have navigated the difficult moments of the year. We tend to be hyper-focused on the external and what we can see, but often there are significant internal changes we miss out on celebrating.

Changing “resolutions” to “intentions” 

If you are someone who feels energised and motivated by setting goals at New Year, an invitation is to change the idea of “resolutions” to “intentions” instead. Resolutions might feel hard and rigid, whereas intentions have a softer quality to them. As we change, or our life changes, we may need to be fluid with our goals, and intentions allow us this fluidity. A couple of tips with setting intentions; think small, stay realistic, and go easy on yourself. The blow to our self-esteem from not managing to achieve sometimes unrealistic goals for ourselves can have a negative effect on our mental health. It’s also helpful to think about the “why” underneath our intentions too and to aim for that. Perhaps instead of losing “x” amount of weight, the intention is to feel more at ease in your body. Remember that you can change or set intentions at any time in the year – they are not just for New Year. Also, if you are someone who doesn’t want to set intentions too, then that is more than okay – there’s no need to put that pressure on yourself. 

Setting intentions in line with our values  

A helpful compass to guide our intentions can come from exploring what our values might be as a person and in our lives. A values exercise (like this one) may help us to set meaningful intentions moving forwards. If we are unaware of our values, we might end up being guided by what we think we “should” do, or by other people’s lives. For example, perhaps like me, you think you “should” read more books, but in reality, you actually just value learning. Setting myself a goal to read a book a month last year definitely didn’t work out, but I did attend a lot of different trainings which helped me to learn a lot across the year. Perhaps we can be a little bit more flexible with the exact way we get to our goals, being open to what might come our way in 2024. Thinking about how we want to “feel” rather than what we might be doing, can be a useful way to picture any change we want to make. If you are someone who enjoys being creative, perhaps you might schedule a self-care evening creating a ”vision board” of pictures or photos that might represent how you want to feel and the important things you want to nurture in 2024.  
I am wishing you all a nourishing rest of winter and beginning of 2024. If you struggle to give yourself the permission to rest, consider this your permission slip. The nights are still long, and the weather is still cold – if you need more sleep and rest at this point of the year, that’s quite natural and very okay. Spring will soon come and there is plenty of time to tend to all of your wishes for New Year ahead. 

If you need support with your mental health over the winter, please remember these support services are available: 

The Samaritans – Tel: 116 123 or email 

SHOUT – Text 85258 

Anxiety UK - 03444 775 774 or 


NHS Talking Therapies -


Adele Sales - OH Wellbeing Practitioner at Solent NHS Trust.

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