In all honesty, January is the month that I dread.
Firstly, waking up in cold, misty darkness is not something I particularly like doing. Shivering as you shut up your alarm and reach for your warmest hoodie, exams are the last thing you want to be doing.
But what I dread most of all are the comments. And by that, I mean the Resolutions.
I appreciate resolutions such as studying more, spending more time with family or relaxing more often are important. Of course we should be improving our state of mind and happiness with others.
However, what I struggle to cope with are the reoccurring food and exercise goals.
Yes, eating green vegetables everyday is a healthy thing to aspire to, as is drinking more water or having less alcohol. But every year there will be people who tell me their own extreme versions:
“This year I will get up at 5:30 everyday and burn * this many * calories before breakfast.”
“I am not going to eat more any junk food- ever.”
“I don’t like my legs; I’m going to cycle every single day to make them thin.”
Suddenly my stomach sinks, and there is no other option but to fake a smile and quietly congratulate them.
It’s not that I don’t care about your latest achievements, because if you’re a friend I certainly do. It’s the negative thinking behind these harsh goals that can worry me; nobody wants to see a friend slowly becoming obsessive with exercise, or sadden as motivation lessens in mid-February.
Worrying about food and exercise is something I still battle with, and hearing about another person on a January diet can really bring irrational thoughts back. Of course this is not the person’s fault- I would never blame them for making me feel this way- however the emotional impact of January diets are not very sensitively considered.
The fact is, not everyone is comfortable with hearing the latest diet details. Not everyone wants to hear how much weight someone has lost. It’s hard to explain how painfully guilty you can feel just knowing how different someone’s lifestyle is to your own; something which many eating disorder sufferers struggle with daily.
Of course, Resolutions can really turn peoples’ lives around for the better. It is great to feel good about yourself, and it feels amazing when you get a good balance between exercise, eating and fun.
But don’t let yourself shout out your new weight to the entire world. Be wary of who you choose to tell; January can be a very vulnerable time, especially for those with mental illnesses. So please do not be downhearted if one of your friends doesn’t want to hear the exact details.