Page last updated at 03:41 GMT, Thursday, 1 January 2009

Resolutions 'bad for your health'

The charity recommends exercise and getting in touch with nature

Deciding to turn over a new leaf in the new year could do more harm than good, a mental health charity has warned.

Mind has urged people not to feel they must start 2009 armed with resolutions for self-improvement.

The charity said resolutions which focus on issues such as the need to lose weight or job worries create a negative self-image.

And if the plans fail to materialise, that could trigger feelings of failure and inadequacy, the charity said.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said focussing on problems or insecurities can lead to feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and even mild depression.

"We chastise ourselves for our perceived shortcomings and set unrealistic goals to change our behaviour, so it's not surprising that when we fail to keep resolutions, we end up feeling worse than when we started," he said.

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

Instead of easily broken resolutions, the charity has suggested a few steps to improve all-round mental health in 2009:

  • Being active - exercise releases endorphins and even a gentle stroll is beneficial for mental well-being
  • Going green - evidence has shown that connecting with nature can boost moods
  • Learn something new - it will keep minds stimulated and give confidence
  • Give back to the community - it can be just as rewarding for you as those you choose to help

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