To be completely honest, I am tired of hearing the same old things when reflecting on the disaster that was 2020. It’s not “over”! There could be another rocky year ahead of us and the best thing you can do for yourself, and most importantly your mental health, is to be kind. Kind to yourself, to the world around you, to your loved ones. I’m here to tell you a few different ways you can “reclaim” your 2020, to ensure that the year ahead can make up for all the negativity we look back on.
We’ve heard it a million times, but I’m here again to introduce the concept of positive thinking. I know it sounds ridiculous and it’s definitely the kind of advice a disconnected family member would offer “Just be more positive!” they’d say, with a smile on their face. But it’s more than that. Positive thinking does not mean being a blind optimist. In fact, it means quite the opposite. Over the past year, I’ve come to the realization that my internal dialogue holds immense power over the way I conduct myself in everything I do. If one bad thing happens to me, like I spill my morning coffee all over myself, I used to automatically shut down and claim it tarnished the whole day and while, yes, that’s an unfortunate occurrence, shutting down does not allow you to make the most of the rest of your day. Being kind to yourself in the same way you practice kindness to those around you will provide a beautiful lens of positivity into the world around you.
Exercise. I know a lot of people tend to avoid this aspect of the human experience, but it’s essential. The same way we focus on our mental health, take breaks from work, allow ourselves little indulgences, we must take care of our physical bodies in the same way. Making time for exercise does not mean spending three hours at the gym or becoming a marathon runner. Exercise looks different for everybody: a 15-minute yoga session, a few YouTube dance workouts to your favorite jams, or walks around your neighborhood with your dog. It’s been quite the journey, but unlearning the idea that exercise is solely for weight loss has been a massive breakthrough for me in 2020. And I’m still unlearning, everyday. It is scientifically proven that exercise will make you a more positive, productive, and energized person. It’s time to stop denying yourself of your basic human need and create healthy habits at your own pace.
Finally, I want to bring up the importance of reflection. Some people meditate, journal, exercise, or simply create, but the essential component of all those activities is the idea of reflecting. Spending quality time with yourself to look in the rear view mirror and think about your day, the week, the past month, or even the past year. The fun part of this is that there is no right or wrong day to spend time with yourself, it looks different for every person and on every day. I personally like to journal and go on long runs to explore my headspace. In doing this, you have the power to feel your feelings, determine why you feel that way, and solve internal conflicts before they snea their way into your external relationships. Essentially, you are simply getting to know yourself better. Eventually you will be able to identify the ways in which you adapted, changed, and evolved from past versions of yourself. In 2020, I watched myself change into a whole new form—and I got to read back on journal entries to relive the whole thing. It was amazing.
There are so many ways to be kind to yourself every day. Creating these healthy habits will improve your quality of life, guaranteed. Self care looks different for everyone, but I promise the work is worth it.
I wish you all the best in 2021!