Approaching the new year when you’re feeling low and down

When a new year begins, a lot of us feel the pressure to make this "the best year yet". But if this pressure of new shiny goals is bringing you down, how can you best approach the new year in a more gentle and sustainable way?
new year's resolutions depressed

It’s a new year and for many of us that throws up a lot of emotions.

The beginning of a new year offers the chance for a sense of closure over things that happened in the past year. Not necessarily just for the things that were upsetting or didn’t go as planned. But perhaps you worked really hard on something last year and towards the end of it you just felt this sense of tiredness. 

A new year can say: “Whatever is done, is done. I don’t need to carry all that weight on my shoulders anymore.” It can come as a relief and indeed a new beginning. 

But as is so common in our culture, the pressure to make “this year the best yet” can be huge. When you hear or see people making New Year’s resolutions, it can be difficult to not feel bad about yourself if right now, you are just not in that sort of place. 

You're feeling depressed and New Year's Resolutions aren't helping

Pursuing goals has been proven by research to be a great happiness booster for many people. 

But just because it’s the beginning of a new year, it doesn’t mean that you suddenly need to transform yourself into a healthier, happier and wealthier person. If even just the thought of doing that seems overwhelming, just try to let go of those external pressures. When we feel overwhelmed, it’s much better to try and simplify things, rather than trying to do more and more. And let’s face it, if you’re suffering from depression, you are already trying incredibly hard to just make it through each day. 

New Year’s resolutions are also known for being very difficult to stick to. Creating a new habit takes time, effort and continuous commitment. Some of those resolutions are set so high that you’d almost need to become an entirely different person. So a lot of us end up struggling and “fail” to achieve our big goals, which then makes us feel even worse. 

Or perhaps you have already got goals in your life and just because it’s a new year, you might now feel that they are perhaps not good enough or not aspirational enough. 

Setting intentions instead of resolutions

If some of what I’ve described above applies to you and New Year’s resolutions are not making you feel good, then I’d encourage you to set intentions instead. 

Instead of demanding big habit changes of yourself, you could think about how you’d like to feel throughout this year. How would you like to feel by the time summer starts? How would you like to feel at the end of this year?

And what are some of the small things you could do to help you feel this way more often? 

Be realistic and think about the things that you know help you feel better. Could you do just a little bit more of that? 

Could you perhaps go for a walk more often or set up a regular phone call with a friend or family member? Could you set the intention to be kinder to yourself? To remind yourself now and again of the things you are grateful for? Could you give yourself more permission to rest and “just be” this year? Perhaps just whilst the winter lasts? 

Goals are about reaching a specific destination and achieving a particular thing. You either get there or you don’t. Intentions, however, are more about the relationship with yourself and with your life. It’s about how you want to live. Each day, each week or month. Intentions are about how you want to show up in the world. 

To me, intentions are much gentler than goals and because of that, they can be so helpful when you’re feeling low and down about yourself.

Choosing a word for this new year

In line with setting intentions for the year, you could also choose a word for it. This word can be your focus and guidance for the year. It could be something you want to embrace more. Again, asking yourself how you’d like to feel about this year by the end of it can be really helpful.

For me personally, my word for the year is grow. Last year was all about building and setting up my business for me. This year, I want it to be about growing my community, my client base, helping other women out there improve their mood and mental health naturally. 

But it’s also about growing as a person, doing the things that have true value and meaning for me. Right now, I don’t have any intentions for any new big things in my life. I like it just the way it is. I know what I like and I know what works well for me. I just want to do more of it and grow as a result. 

If your intention is to feel happier and healthier within your mind and body this year, and you’re interested to find out more about my work, just simply send me a message here. No commitments afterwards, but it might just be a great opportunity to chat. 

Whichever way, I wish you well for this new year!

approaching the new year when you're feeling low

Welcome to the blog

I’m Claudia Smith and I help women get to better mental health naturally. Having overcome depression once myself, I am a qualified nutritionist, coach and practice functional medicine.

Purchase my workbook to grow your confidence and self-worth