New Year’s Resolutions: The Pressure Is Bad for Mental Illness

December 30, 2011 Natasha Tracy

The added pressure of a New Year's resolution isn't helpful for people with mental illness. We're under enough pressure every day of the year. Discover why.

New Year's is not such a bad time. It's about looking back and learning, I think. We can look back over the year and determine why we did what we did and what it is we should do about it. It's about new beginnings, fresh beginnings, a clean slate. All of that is lovely really.

But with all that comes the dreaded New Year's resolution - the thing we say, hand to heart, that we will endeavour to do in the following year. But really, these resolutions have a negative impact on the mentally ill.

New Year's Resolutions Add Pressure to Life the Mentally Ill Don't Need

I resolve to lose weight. I resolve to live on a budget. I resolve to take my meds. I resolve to exercise. I resolve to quit drinking coffee. I resolve to quit smoking. And so on and so forth into January.

And there's nothing wrong with any of these things. Some people want to lose weight or budget their money. Some people want to exercise and stop drinking coffee. I have no problem with any of that.

People with mental illness are under enough pressure every day of the year and the added pressure of a New Year's resolution isn't helpful. Click to discover why.The problem I have is with the concept of a "resolution." Resolution is an act of resolving or determining; firmness of purpose. In other words, it's something you can't come back from. One can't resolve to hate coffee one moment and then invest in Tim Horton's the next.

And that's pressure. It's an additional layer of pressure to say you resolve to do something. Now, suddenly, you feel like a shlub if you can't do it. Or, more precisely, your delicate self-esteem takes a hit.

But Every Day with Mental Illness is a Struggle

But as it happens, mental illness doesn't exist in sweeping gestures, it happens in teardrops and flashes of anger. It happens in delusions and flights of ideas. Mental illness isn't a life, it's itty bitty particles that make up a life.

And those itty bitty particles must be fought one at a time, one day at a time, one thought at a time if there is any hope of changing even a one of them. And that's a lot to handle without the pressure of a resolution hanging over your head.

So What's a Mentally Ill Person to Do If They Want to Change?

Change it OK. Healthy changes are even better. But try the inch-by-inch approach. Right now, and this moment, I will exercise. No thought about tomorrow and certainly no thought about an entire year. Just for today I will take all my meds as prescribed.

Tomorrow you can have the same thought. Or not. But you do not fail because one day you do not match your new, changed behavior because tomorrow you have the chance to do it all over again.

You don't need a resolution to change your life, you just need a thought. And that thought can happen any day of the year.

Oh, and did I mention that New Year's Eve pressure isn't my favourite thing either?

PS: If you really want to have a resolution, you could try one of these.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, December 30). New Year’s Resolutions: The Pressure Is Bad for Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 19 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Natasha Tracy
January, 1 2012 at 9:49 am

Hi Karen,
Thank-you. That's a great goal. I'd say it works for every day of the year.
- Natasha

December, 31 2011 at 11:30 pm

Eckhart Tolle advises that if you want to do something, and then you still want to do it the next day, then that is what you really, from deep within yourself, want to do.
Do not kid yourself babe, there is one mind, and we are all in it, in different places at different times.
there is no mad person, only madness and ANYONE can go there, or not.
of course there are swings in bi polar, the mania is to counteract the depression and vice versa.

Karen Tyrrell
December, 31 2011 at 3:23 pm

Hi Natasha,
Love your Blog.
New years resolutions are hard to make of you have mental health issues.
My suggestion to everyone is to make realistic goals ... The best one being
"I'm moving towards mental health recovery"
Hope you have a fabulous 2012 ... Karen :)

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