2020 was undoubtedly a record year that challenged all of us in unprecedented ways. After a year fraught with grief, loss, fear, and uncertainty, many of us were hoping to turn the corner and have a fresh start in 2021. While change is definitely in the air, it may still feel like we are living in an extension of the uncertain and anxious times from the past year. Here are a few ways to remain positive and resilient in 2021:
- Set realistic short-term goals: The start of a new year usually inspires us to make lofty resolutions. But quite often, we put too much pressure on ourselves to make drastic life changes and end up feeling demoralized. This may be especially true this year, given that we are still living within the constraints of the pandemic. So instead of committing to one or more big changes for the year, break them up into smaller, more short-term goals which will be feasible to achieve within your current circumstances. This way, you will feel proud and confident as you track your progress through your milestones. You can even adjust your plans to suit your needs while keeping the bigger picture in mind, instead of giving up on your goals altogether. Having meaningful goals that reflect your values also helps you stay motivated and focused, so pause to ask yourself the true reason behind your chosen resolution and if it is truly worthwhile for you to pursue.
- Practice gratitude: It is often easy to feel disheartened when times are tough, and things are not going according to plan. In times like this, pause and take stock of all the things in your life that you are grateful for and celebrate the simple joys and small victories whenever you can. Using gratitude as a tool to reframe your perspective on life can not only take your mind off your struggles and sacrifices in the present moment, but over time, it will also help you cope with stress, anxiety, and hardship with a more positive attitude. Getting into the habit of thinking this way may not always come naturally or easily – it is a skill that needs, patience, practice, and discipline. Consider using apps or calendars with gratitude prompts or keeping a gratitude journal to document the things – however big or small – that you are thankful for in your life.
- Be kind: Perhaps one of the greatest unifiers of this pandemic is the shared sense of fear, loss, grief, and hardship, even though we may have experienced them in different capacities. Treating each other with kindness, understanding and respect has never been more crucial than it is in times of a global crisis. Simple gestures like sending a thoughtful gift, offering words of praise and encouragement, checking in with a loved one or delivering groceries to your elderly neighbor can go a long way towards lifting their spirits and even inspire them to pay it forward and continue the chain of kindness. While it is important to be kind to others, it is equally important to also be kind to yourself, both mentally and physically. Dedicate time in your schedule for practicing self-care – it can be in the form of exercise, yoga, or meditation, or relaxing with a book or a warm bath, or even simply disconnecting from the news and social media to allow your mind to rest and reflect.
- Be open to new opportunities: With any crisis comes opportunities to learn and grow. While you may have to continue to put many plans and goals on hold in 2021, you should always remain open to exploring new ideas or capitalizing on unique opportunities that present themselves. For instance, you may not be able to socialize or travel as much as you may have wanted to, but instead, you could save the money you would have spent and use it towards a future investment or any outstanding debt. Always be on the lookout for opportunities that are meaningful to you and reflect your values – you can pursue a hobby or project that you have been meaning to tackle, invest in learning skills that would aid in your professional development, or give back to society by volunteering and supporting initiatives within your community.