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Exercise, diet, looking after our mental health and sorting out our finances top the list of New Year resolutions, Permanent TSB ‘Reflecting Ireland’ research reveals

Getting more exercise, healthier eating, taking care of our mental health and sorting out our finances are the most popular New Year resolutions for 2023, according to research carried out as part of Permanent TSB’s “Reflecting Ireland” series on consumer attitudes and behaviour. 

The research found 81% of people already have New Year resolutions in mind, with changes aimed at improving our physical, mental and financial health featuring prominently. The top resolution relate to losing weight, getting fit or improving diet (35%), followed by:

  • Sort out finances and cut back on spending
  • Take better care of mental health
  • Spend more time with family and friends

In terms of behavioural changes in the New Year, there is widespread support for kicking bad habits and self-improvement:

  • 70% plan to stop impulse buying of sweets and soft drinks
  • 58% will drink less alcohol and 57% of smokers plan to quit or to cut back.

In terms of looking after our day-to-day health and wellbeing in 2023

  • 61% of people plan to exercise more
  • 54% plan to structure their evenings better so they can go to bed earlier and get more sleep
  • 54% are planning to change their diet and eat more healthy foods;

The research shows a strong awareness of the importance of mental health, with 31% planning to set aside more time for spending with family and friends and 47% deciding to get out and about and spend more time experiencing nature.

Other planned changes that are popular include listening to more music (38%) and taking natural health supplements (23%).

But there is only very limited support for other changes, such as spending less time on social media or more time on hobbies, education or travel.

One in six people (16%) say they are happy with what they are doing in 2022 and plan to make no changes at all in 2023.

Mixed signals on environmental actions

The research also shows strong ambitions to engage in environmentally sustainable behaviours but that these ambitions are generally not matched by actions.

The research reveals many people have good intentions on “softer actions” but are more circumspect on more specific remedial actions.

Participants signalled they are very happy to recycle more, continue to reduce their carbon footprint and use public transport more, but when specific actions are suggested, they are significantly more reticent to take these actions.

Less than one in five people intends to retrofit their homes partially or fully in 2023, while the appetite for Electric Vehicles remains muted.

This “say-do” gap has featured in previous “Reflecting Ireland” research and may reflect economic considerations in light of the significant costs involved in retrofitting homes or in buying a new vehicle.

Leontia Fannin, Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Permanent TSB, said:

“Our research shows a huge proportion of people are approaching 2023 in the spirit of making things better – looking after their bodies, their minds and their relationships.

While we all have experience of New Year resolutions falling by the wayside after a few days or a few weeks, it’s really positive to see so many people committing to making changes that can often be really difficult, but worth it in in the end.

We want to wish everyone well in their efforts – keep it up for as long as you can but don’t be too hard on yourselves.”

Claire Cogan, behavioural scientist, said:

“This is traditionally a time where we take stock and prepare for the year ahead, and our research shows that people are focused on looking after their health and wellbeing in the widest sense and building their resilience for any challenges ahead.

People have a good sense of what contributes to overall wellbeing, from diet and exercise to nurturing relationships and good financial wellbeing.

The key is to try and make our good intentions stick, and one way to do this is to frame them in a positive way. Focus on what you want to do or achieve, rather than on what you want to give up or avoid.”

Reflecting Ireland is a quarterly research series from Permanent TSB which examines topical issues.  The research was undertaken by Kantar in November 2022 amongst [~1,000] adults.


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