Top New Year’s resolution among Gen Z shows cultural shift away from physical fitness goals

As the end of the year approaches, attention has shifted to New Year’s resolutions.

Unlike years past, which have seen New Year’s resolutions largely centred around physical health, the younger generations appear to be focused more on improved mental health in the coming year.

The cultural shift was discovered through a November Forbes Health/OnePoll survey, which surveyed 1,005 adults in the US, and saw 45 per cent of respondents state that improved mental health was one of their top resolutions.

The number of individuals who plan to focus on mental health in 2023 was higher than those concerned with improving their physical health, as just 39 per cent stated that improved fitness is their top goal. A resolution of weight loss or improved diet made up 37 per cent and 33 per cent of respondents, respectively.

According to the findings, the generation most concerned with mental health is Gen Z. The survey found that 50 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 25 plan to work towards improving their mental wellbeing.

The younger generation isn’t alone either. The shift also extends to millennials, whose focus has turned from physical health to mental health. According to the poll, 49 per cent of respondents between the ages of 26 and 41 cited mental health as a top resolution in the coming year.

The results also come amid an increase in anxiety and depression as a result of the pandemic. As noted by Forbes, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported in March 2022 that anxiety and depression increased globally by 25 per cent in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a Harvard-trained clinical psychologist, professor, researcher and Forbes Health Advisory Board member, told the publication that the takeaway from the poll’s results should be positive, as they show individuals are aware of the importance of mental health.

“Awareness of the importance of mental health has drastically increased among younger generations,” she told Forbers, adding that this is “likely due to the combination of amplified exposure, learning about the experience of others through various outlets (eg, social media platforms, videos, blogs, articles), proliferation of the mental health industry and reduced stigma [that] has created more resources to discuss experiences and receive care”.

As for how respondents plan to priortise their mental health in 2023, the poll found 10 per cent plan to use online therapy providers, while 17 per cent said they plan to rely on meditation apps to help them achieve their New Year’s resolutions.

In addition to a focus on overall mental health, the study also found that a number of respondents from all age groups want to strive for a better work-life balance in the new year. Others, especially Gen Z respondents, want to make more time for hobbies.

As for the most popular resolution that doesn’t pertain to mental or physical health, the poll found that individuals from all age groups plan to improve their finances -- a top goal among 34 per cent of millennial respondents.