Normally, around this time of the year, you and I are industriously writing down our list of New Year’s resolutions and putting together a game plan of how we are going to tackle the months to come. However, it’s safe to say that 2020 was far from normal. Between the months of February and December, we were hit by several curveballs.
Not only did we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic. But we experienced massive financial pressure, intense loss, mounting levels of anxiety, and emotional turmoil. On top of that, statistics show that stress levels are also climbing to a new high – even over the festive break.
Many people were hoping that once we were safe in 2021, we would be looking at a more positive scenario. But alas, it seems clear that COVID-19 is not over with the end of 2020. In the face of climbing infection statistics, renewed lockdowns, and regulations being reinstated, maintaining a sense of positivity for the new year can be challenging.
Which is why your New Year’s resolutions should do the following:
- do away with bad habits from the past and make room for ones that will be good for you in 2021
- help you manage emotions of fear and anxiety around the pandemic
- keep a positive mindset practically
- Allow you to move forward in your career
- support you in remaining productive and focused
- help you to stay healthy and take care of your body
- help you to manage issues like regret, loss, negativity, and stress
Now that we know what kind of New Year’s resolutions we want to focus on this year, let’s jump into it.
1. Reset your habits for improved health, positivity, and productivity
We get it. As much as we love the holidays, somehow they always manage to send us home with unwanted weight gain, an empty bank account, and – if you spent it by the coast – a sunburn. This is probably one of the reasons why New Year’s resolutions exist in the first place. So that we can get our lifestyles back on track and do some necessary damage control.
Some of the most common bad habits that we tend to pick up over the festive break include indulging in too much sugar, alcohol, and junk food, not getting enough exercise, messing up our sleep schedule, spending too much money, and not taking care of ourselves in general.
Now, this kind of behavior is fine for a few weeks while we take a break and enjoy ourselves over the holidays, but it’s important to leave it behind in the New Year. This list of healthy habits to pick up again can help you get back on track and enjoy better health, work more productively, and have improved function overall.
- Cut sugar, alcohol, and caffeine from your diet. Not only will these affect the way your mind works and impair function, but these three stand in the way of your weight loss efforts. Instead, focus on predominantly plant-based, freshly-prepared meals, such as those included in the Mediterranean diet. Go shopping for fresh produce. Cook your favorite meals and try new dishes. Try to drink at least 2L of water a day.
- Get your sleep schedule fixed. Try to stick to a routine, and get to bed by a reasonable hour. Eliminate all distractions, sleep in a dark, cool room, and avoid blue light at least an hour before bed.
- Get back into your exercise routine. This is very important, particularly when we’re trying to maintain a positive mindset. Humans were never created to be sitting down all day, and we need movement to function properly. Sufficient exercise and movement does wonders for our endorphin levels, self-image, and energy levels in general. This is also one of the biggest predicted wellness trends for 2021, and you can absolutely customize your exercise routine to fit your individual needs.
- Set aside time to spend with your loved ones. One thing 2020 has taught us is that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. We need to prioritize our loved ones more. Catch up regularly and schedule visits, calls, or just invite someone for coffee.
- Start practicing breathing exercises. There are various apps you can download that will keep you reminded of this. Proper breathing is vital to our bodies, but most of us don’t breathe properly. Fixing this will help you manage stress, enjoy better brain function, and better focus.
- Remember to recharge. While you’re probably under pressure to jump back into work, it’s also important not to overdo it from the get-go. Rather start slowly, setting yourself manageable goals. If you’ve been sitting for a while, stand up, pour yourself a glass of water, stretch, and come back in 5 mins. Here’s how you can better practice self-care in 2021.
2. Create a self-esteem file
Prepare for days when you’re feeling a little off with some black-on-white positivity as a pick-me-up. You can make this practical by setting up a file, either on paper or electronically, and start writing down things you’re proud of. Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to actively grow your self-esteem, and don’t be afraid to call in help. Ask those closest to you to contribute with letters of affirmation, and file these along with the notes you write yourself. Be creative, decorate, or organize it in a way that makes it a positive element in your life. This is something you can build throughout your life, and it can help your personal growth enormously.
3. Develop and grow yourself and your career
You need to take the time to make yourself irreplaceable in the workplace. Take advantage of the benefits of the myriad of online courses available that won’t break the bank. This will allow you to add to your skill set and make you more valuable as an employee. Do your research and find out which skills will be most useful in your career path. You can also see if there is a way to turn a hobby into another line of income. Options such as opening a second-hand clothing store, selling baked, dried, or cooked goods, or even fresh garden produce can help you to use your extra time profitably.
4. Cut expenses wherever you can
Economically, we all need to make this one of our New Year’s resolutions. Take a good look at your expenses and see if there’s an area where you can save some money. Cancel any subscriptions you no longer use, make the decision to eat out less and cook at home more, and set up a new budget for the new year.
5. Learn to let tomorrow worry about itself
Understand that no amount of worry is going to change the outcome of tomorrow. Instead, get into the habit of planning your day ahead the previous evening. Put down everything you can think of so that you can optimize your productivity. But be careful of developing anxiety over things that are still in the future. Remember to just focus on what you can handle today.
6. Get help if you’re struggling
We need to start understanding that struggling with mental health is not something to be ashamed of. It’s very normal. From time to time, everyone needs some help. Mental health problems are not always something we can handle on our own. If you begin to notice that your feelings and symptoms are growing stronger by the day, no matter what you have tried, then you may need to reach out to a mental health professional. Read about the latest research on depression, and why scientists believe it’s trying to save us.