There is so much pressure on New Year’s Eve – it feels like everything I’ve ever done throughout the entire year has all boiled down to this day, December 31st, 2014. And it must be perfect.

I’ve come to realize that I’m not the only one. With that mindset, the holidays inevitably become a great time for reflection. It can seem like you get what you deserve on New Year’s – if you go to an awesome party or get a New Year’s kiss then you must have done something right; if you’re sitting at home, it’s because you made the wrong choices or didn’t try hard enough.

Of course, none of that is true. It’s just a day like any other. You can’t feel the difference between 11:59 on December 31st and 12:01 on January 1st.

But that’s where the idea of New Year’s resolutions comes from. For some reason we believe that there is a difference. You look back at everything you’ve done wrong and vow to do better next year. This can be a good thing – no one is perfect and everyone has room for improvement. But if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, it can be detrimental to your mental health.

Making life changes should be about being happier with yourself, not because someone else wants you to. Whether you have a particular person in mind or society at large, living your life based on someone else’s terms lessens your sense of self-worth.

For example:

Losing weight because you want to be healthier = good motivation!
Losing weight to look better in a bikini = bad motivation.

I think that this is particularly important for those with mental illness to keep in mind – so many of us have enough voices in our heads telling us things we don’t want to hear as it is. There’s no need to fuel that fire. Instead of looking back at all the things you’ve done wrong and ways you need to change, try looking back at all the things you’ve done right. You could even make a list. You’ve probably accomplished more in 2014 than you think.

The pressure extends beyond resolutions, too. There’s a reason why going out on New Year’s Eve is the most expensive night of the year. Some holidays are family oriented, but New Year’s generally isn’t one of them. For adults, New Year’s Eve means epic parties full of sparkles, sequins, dancing and alcohol – obviously not everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay. Self-care means putting your mental health first, and that might include not participating in some activities or traditions that friends and family do.

So consider this your friendly reminder to just remember to breathe and relax. Stay in and watch a movie. Go dancing. Go out for dinner. Hang out with friends. Play with your cat. Anything you want – spend your New Year’s Eve living on your own terms and you will have a much better night, I promise!

About Chelsea Ricchio

Chelsea Ricchio is the Creative Projects & Communications Assistant at Healthy Minds Canada. Previously, she worked for HMC as an intern during the summer of 2014. She is a fifth-year student at the University of Toronto, where she is the president of Active Minds at UofT, a mental health awareness student group. She will be graduating in June 2015. You can follow her on Twitter and check out her blog here.

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