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New Year’s Resolutions When You Live Day to Day for Your Mental Health

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. For me, they always came from a dark place. They identified everything that was wrong with me, real or imagined. They stomped on my self-esteem. I was “fat” and “ugly” and needed to lose weight. I was lazy and listless without purpose. I needed to apply myself more strictly. Resolutions fed on my insecurities and self-hate.

And, of course, the moment I failed, which inevitably happened within a couple of days or weeks of the new year, the thoughts pounced even harder, and spiraled out of control.

To further complicate New Year’s resolutions, I live with chronophobia: a fear of time and the future. Plans made months, weeks or even just a few days in advance overwhelm me. Every night I hope is my last, that time will stop. The idea of doing something new for a whole year is debilitating. I am scared and more certain than ever that suicide will overrun me first.

So instead of making resolutions, I now make a daily list of things I want to accomplish for next day.

Someone not struggling with mental health challenges might think my daily goals are laughable. Spending time with my children and my wife, reading, listing to music and remembering to breathe when anxious all might seem like obvious activities that don’t need to be itemized, but for me they provide the opportunity of accomplishment. I make sure that each is meaningful and achievable. I write down “eat well” instead of eat less or lose weight.

Then, before I go to bed, I reflect back on what I can check off my list. If there is something I was unable to do, it’s not a big deal. I just add it to tomorrow’s list and try again. One day I may look to the big picture but for now, I live life day to day. It is the only way I know how.

For more on making New Year’s resolutions when you live with a mental illness, see this article from Mighty contributor Mindy M.

Photo by Silviu Beniamin Tofan on Unsplash