Focusing on your wellbeing this new year

12 January 2024

The new year can provide a great opportunity to mentally reset and refocus on your personal goals.

However, this process can be simultaneously daunting, or even stressful, for some people.

People may experience stress or pressure in the new year for many reasons, including: 

  • Resolution pressure: the pressure to ‘transform’ ourselves can be overwhelming, and having unrealistic expectations or self-criticisms over any failures could fuel stress and anxiety. 
  • Social comparison: comparing yourself to others (e.g., on social media) could trigger feelings of inadequacy, which can foster negative self-talk that may then hinder personal progress towards your own goals. 
  • Financial strain: the holiday season is an expensive time for many, and it can take a while to rebuild funds. Some people may find themselves impulsively spending during this ‘fresh start’ mentality, which can cause more new year stress and financial anxiety. 
  • Loss of routine: the holiday period disrupts many of our usual schedules and having to adjust to a new routine can create a sense of instability, adding to the overall stress burden. 

Self-managing anxious feelings 
If you are experiencing the pressure of the new year, try implementing these techniques to help work through feelings of anxiety or stress. 

  • Set reasonable expectations and goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART goals). Prioritise small, achievable goals over sweeping transformations and treat setbacks as learning opportunities to help you grow.
  • Schedule routine anchors to help maintain a sense of stability instead of making constant adjustments. Keep some core routines around mindfulness and meditation, sleep schedules, regular exercise, socialising, keeping lists, and even unwinding. Try not to punish yourself with negative thinking if these routines slip and need adjusting throughout the year.
  • Access your support systems. Speak to people you trust or try journalling your thoughts and feelings to help gain perspective.

Advice for adjusting to a new routine 

If you decide to adjust your routine this new year, be sure to start with small habits and build up gradually. As you master the small goals, it gets easier to commit to the bigger ones, rather than overwhelming ourselves with lots of change all at once.  

Remember to focus on consistent, sustainable progress. Be mindful of your energy levels and emotional state and allow yourself the flexibility to adjust your plans to match how you are feeling. Prioritise rest and self-care when needed and go easy on yourself. 

Take this as a process of growth and learning rather than just focusing on the end results. Recognise that each step and challenge of the year is another opportunity to grow stronger for the next day. 

Simple ways to prioritise your mental health this year 

  • Make time for mindful moments: take short breaks for deep breathing or guided meditation. These mini resets can help reduce stress and refocus your energy. 
  • Engage in mindful movements: incorporate daily physical activity such as gentle walks where you take in the full experience of walking, including taking notice of the muscles involved and thinking of the scenery around you. This kind of exercise has been shown to improve mood by releasing endorphins and reducing stress hormones. 
  • Practice gratitude: reflect on things you’re grateful for, even the small things like your morning coffee. This practice can help cultivate a positive mindset and improve your overall wellbeing. 
  • Connect with your support network: reaching out and letting someone you trust know that you’re feeling overwhelmed can help lighten the burden, enhance a sense of connection and reduce feelings of isolation. 
  • Express yourself: creative activities like art, journalling and music can help you release feelings of stress in a healthy way. 
  • Break down smaller tasks into achievable steps: focus on the easy tasks to build a sense of accomplishment. This can foster a sense of achievement and create momentum for the bigger tasks that you may be holding back from. 

Support at Mates4Mates

Mates4Mates offers a range of support for veterans and family members experiencing stress, anxiety or mental fatigue, with a highly skilled team of psychologists, counsellors, social workers and exercise physiologists available in our centres and via telehealth appointments. 

We also have regular social connection activities across Australia to help you meet other veterans with similar experiences to your own, allowing you to explore and discover what you enjoy doing while building a network of new friends. 

If you’re a veteran or family member and want to find out more about how Mates4Mates can support you, reach out to us on 1300 4 MATES (62 837) for a confidential chat.


Written by Kia Karimi, Mates4Mates Psychologist 

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