New Year pledges can harm mental health

Are you still keeping to your New Year resolutions four days into 2009?

Well, if your good intentions have already fallen by the wayside don't worry, as deciding to turn over a new leaf in the New Year could actually do you more harm than good.

The UK mental health charity Mind has urged people not to feel they must start 2009 full of resolutions for improving their lives.

The charity said resolutions which focus on physical imperfections, such as the need to lose weight, create a negative self-image and lead to feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and even mild depression.

When New year resolutions fail this can trigger feelings of failure and inadequacy, the charity said.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: "New Year's resolutions can sometimes focus on our problems or insecurities such as being overweight, feeling unhappy in our jobs or feeling guilty about not devoting enough time to friends and family throughout the year."

He said we chastise ourselves for our perceived shortcomings and often set unrealistic goals to change, so it is not surprising that when we fail to keep resolutions, we end up feeling worse than when we started.

"In 2009, instead of making a New Year's resolution, think positively about the year to come and what you can achieve."

Instead of unrealistic resolutions, Mind suggested a few steps to improve all round mental health in 2009.

It said being active is a good idea - exercise releases endorphins and even a gentle stroll is beneficial for your mental well-being.

Mind said 'going green' is another preventative measure as evidence has shown that connecting with nature can boost moods.

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