Jade Goh of The Mind Faculty shares her expert advice.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that things don’t go according to plan. The uncertainty has caused us more stress and anxiety, which has made it hard to feel hopeful for the new year. Although it seems like nothing is going to change anytime soon, we can still look forward to having a fresh start in January by practicing gratitude.
Gratitude can help plant the seeds for hope in 2021. Start by making a list of things you are grateful for this past year. Did you get to spend more time with your family, learn a new skill or have more time to relax? Think of what you can bring into the new year. By taking the time to focus on the good things that have happened, you’ll find yourself feeling more optimistic about the upcoming year!
However, it can still be hard to muster up the motivation to make New Year’s resolutions. There are two parts to feeling motivated. Firstly, you need to have something that you want to achieve, and for the second part, you need to know that there is a way to achieve this.
We may feel unmotivated to make resolutions, such as lose a certain amount of weight if we feel that our plans have been derailed by gym closures. When dealing with uncertainty and stress, we need to distinguish between what we can and can’t control.
We only have control over our actions. Instead of focusing on the destination, make resolutions about the journey. For example, instead of “I want to lose 5 kgs before February”, say “I want to move my body 20 minutes a day”. Moving your body could be walking up and down the stairs at your apartment complex, or following an exercise video on Youtube.
Don’t pressure yourself to achieve your New Year’s resolutions. Stress triggers the automatic habitual behaviour we’ve established over the years. You may find yourself retreating back to your comfort zone more easily. This is where mindfulness comes into play.
Mindfulness focuses on what really matters, and helps us stay on track or get back on track. By becoming more aware of our internal state, and the feelings that drive our behaviour, we’ll be able to make mindful choices towards more helpful behaviour.
Having goals is important as it helps us know where we are going. However, it’s equally important for us to manage our expectations – if we set them too high, we may feel discouraged.
At the start of 2020, you probably thought it was going to be a good year, right? New decade, new me. Yet here we are, still living through a pandemic, stuck in our homes – feeling unmotivated, unaccomplished, and dealing with uncertainty. Coming to terms with reality and accepting the new normal hasn’t been an easy feat for any of us. Although some days may seem normal, what we’re going through right now is still so far from it.
But we shouldn’t spend the holidays beating ourselves up over unprecedented situations – we’re only human! We can still continue our year-end gratitude, even though it’ll look different, and reflect on ways to be thankful. Our priorities have shifted, so focus on the silver linings and show yourself the kindness you deserve – celebrate the fact that you’ve survived the madness of it all!
Here are 6 things to be thankful for in 2020:
- Family, friends and partners
Even if you weren’t living alone, the lockdown was a lonely time, but it helped us realized the importance of our relationships. Celebrate the people you surrounded yourself with, physically or virtually, and provided you with emotional and social support.
- Food, shelter and basic necessities
We all know the struggles many are facing during a time like this. Appreciate and acknowledge what you have instead of dwelling on what you don’t as not everyone has had the privilege of mere basic necessities.
- Acts of kindness
As devastating as this year has been, kindness has still existed everywhere – which is something worth celebrating! The stronger-than-ever community spirit has seen people all over the world helping each other out from raising funds for groceries and surgeries to donating masks, gloves and hand sanitisers.
With movement restrictions and social distancing measures, we often overlook how technology has provided us with the convenience of connecting with one another, as well as the entertainment, recipes and workout routines that kept us busy and got us through being stuck at home.
Find gratitude towards the hobbies, old and new, that you indulged in as a healthy distraction. These allowed us to enjoy ourselves, and even made us feel just the slightest bit better amidst the cancelled plans and uncertainty.
- Making it to the end of each day
Some days are much harder to go through, while some days seems like a breeze. Practice self-compassion and give yourself credit for making it to the end of each day! It’s okay if all you did some days was survive.
This list acts as a mere reminder of the things we can still celebrate this year-end, but it doesn’t mean you should minimize your own suffering and compare what you have with everyone else. Whatever you may be feeling at this point of time is valid – yet, practicing gratitude is a great way to focus on the things we so often overlook. It also helps us feel more at peace with our lives and improves our mental state.
We hope you can find gratitude in your days and celebrate them!