New year resolutions for mental health

As a new year resolution, why not develop your meditation practice? Photo by Sabine Schulte on Unsplash

The western new year on the 1st of January is a quirk of physics and history. The Earth happens to take 365 days to travel around the sun. And the Romans decided that the 1st of January would be the beginning of each cycle (January is named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings).

Humans like to congregate around particular celebrations. It helps to consolidate social relations if everyone thinks and does similar things on the same day. So we have developed a small set of traditions for the beginning of each year.

We focus on newness. It is a way of dispensing with the old, and bringing in a sense of becoming. In the UK, the season is winter, and the daylight hours are getting longer and warmer in preparation for spring.

One tradition is making new year resolutions. The idea is to commit to some change in your life. Since the commitment is made at the beginning of a new period of time, it is hoped that the change has greater likelihood of sticking.

You can choose anything you like. Given the western world’s increasing tendency towards obesity, many people choose to begin a new lifestyle focused on reducing calorie intake, and increasing exercise. Given the prevalence of drink and drug problems, many choose to make a new effort to reduce their dependence on non-medical psychotropic drugs like alcohol.

Some choose to make behavioural changes relating to their mental or spiritual development. If you are thinking of doing this, here are a few ideas you might like to try.


You could resolve to keep a journal every day. Writing down your personal thoughts in a diary can be mentally healthy, because it stimulates a cycle of individual reflection, enabling experience to better integrate itself into the brain.


Taking up a new leisure activity can stimulate the brain into health, encouraging new connections and avoiding atrophy and staleness. Suitable hobbies include playing a new musical instrument, or learning a new language.


Regular exercise is near the top of the list for activities which improve mental health. Taking up a timetabled regime for exercise is an exceptionally good way to get your body chemicals running in the right direction for you. Programs such as ‘Couch to 5K’ offer an orderly path to success, even for the most unfit person.


Meditation is an art with many health benefits, including better control of wayward emotions, better physical condition, and better relationships with others. Developing a daily meditation habit encourages the mind and body to remain calm, to breathe and relax, and to increase its store of goodwill.

If you fancy taking up meditation, maybe try one of the books outlined in the following link: