Poppy discusses her struggles in 2022 and how she plans to create achievable goals in 2023.
For me, 2022 was a year of changes and challenges. As I struggled to stay on top of my responsibilities in my own life, comparing myself to others made my mental health worse. When I looked around and saw other people going out and accomplishing their goals, it felt like I was falling behind in comparison. And while I tried to sort out my mental and physical health, I noticed that much of my anxiety stemmed from a struggle with setting reasonable and achievable goals.
When I am in a good, motivated frame of mind, I tend to set myself goals which are quite unrealistic. But it’s impossible to feel happy and motivated all the time, so when I attempt to achieve those goals in a different mindset, I feel overwhelmed and incapable. This idea also ties into my struggles with burnout, in both an academic and health sense. For example, I like to hand in my assignments early so that I don’t have to stress about them.
However, this often means I will be so determined to finish one and then immediately move on to the next, which can make me feel burnt out. I also tend to get tired very easily, meaning working and studying all week leaves me exhausted at the weekend. So for 2023, I want to work on being more lenient towards myself and setting more achievable goals. I need to remember that taking breaks and resting are important and are needed to be able to get things done!
Knowing my limits has never been my strong suit, but this year, my priority is setting myself clear boundaries and realistic goals. Personally, I like to have a structure to my days and weeks. Knowing what I’m meant to be doing and when gives me some reassurance. Therefore, when I plan my weeks, I will make sure to give myself regular breaks and rest appropriately. I will also allow myself to stray from the plan if I feel like I am having an off day physically or mentally.
This is important to me, as I really need to allow myself to listen to my body and not feel guilty about taking breaks when I need them. The feelings of guilt will hopefully improve with the healthy school/life balance, as I’m sure it is linked to my anxiety. I would also like to work on this idea of guilt this year, as I have been thinking about it a lot recently. I often find myself feeling as if I haven’t done enough when in reality I have been pushing myself to the limit.
Therefore, I would also like to improve on acknowledging my own achievements. Even if they are small ones, like handing in an assignment, it is still something that I have done independently. And I need to work on recognising these feats as accomplishments and feel proud of myself for getting there. This will, hopefully, help me understand that I am doing enough, and allow me to see that taking breaks will not prevent me from doing what I want to do.
While this might not sound like I’m giving myself a lot of leeways, it’s still a start. And with a new year, that’s all you can ask for. I’ve not always been one to create resolutions (or stick to them) but I will try my hardest this year. And that’s a pretty achievable goal, I think.
Whether you are looking for support for your own mental health at university or supporting a friend, help is available.
I’m Poppy, a Psychology student at the University of Chichester. With professional experience in healthcare as well as with mental health issues, I’m passionate about creating a culture which allows people to open up, especially children and young people.