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I think it’s safe to say that 2021 flew by faster than I could mutter the sentence “wow, 2021 flew by.” This year, just like the last, has taught us new things, brought new struggles, new joys, new people, new memories, fun and sadness. With that said, I think there are some important things we should remember as we enter the new year and this new chapter in our lives. 

First and foremost, mental health. This pandemic has brought new hardships or worsened existing ones in ways that were unimaginable for many. Whether it be worsened mental health issues, the struggle of complete isolation, illness, loss, grief or the utter confusion of where life is headed. It hasn’t been easy, which is why prioritizing our own mental health is so important in the new year. I personally have always struggled with differentiating selfishness and self-care when it comes down to my mental and emotional well-being. I have always felt guilty for putting my needs before others, and I’m sure most of you have felt that way too. However, I think it’s important to recognize that taking care of yourself mentally and emotionally is not selfish in any way, shape or form. It’s quite literally a necessity to survive. In 2022, we need to start choosing ourselves. We need to start caring for ourselves, all while caring for and about others too. You get to decide what that means for you. Whether it be cutting off contact with someone in your life, picking up a lost hobby, going to therapy, starting medication or designating days for you and only you. In times like we’re in now, while it’s important for us to be there for each other, it’s equally as important to be there for yourself. For inspirational purposes, I plan on working on better self-talk, criticizing myself less and to start reframing the way I look at myself. For full transparency, and anyone who knows me can vouch for me, I’m my worst critic and hardly ever say a nice word about myself. It’s like pulling teeth trying to get me to say the most surface-level compliment to myself. It’s time that changes, and if that’s something you struggle with too, we’re in the fight together friend. I cannot emphasize how important it is to be kinder to yourself, because at the end of the day when we’re laying in our beds, all we have is ourselves. Of course, there’s family and friends, maybe a significant other, but when it all comes down to it, we will always have ourselves. 

Second, learning to deal with change. I’ll be honest, I hate change. Unfortunately for me, and maybe for you, change is inevitable. It’s something that will come in all shapes and sizes, but it is quite literally impossible to avoid. Whether it be losing a friend or significant other, new mental health diagnoses, changes to your environment or even a change in your plans for life, change is okay. Change can be and oftentimes is good. To those who lost friendships or relationships, for one, I’m sorry, two, how can we look at that differently? Personally, I love the idea of looking at people in our lives like characters in a book. We have the main ones and the secondary ones. The main characters include yourself (of course), family members and maybe a friend or two. The secondary ones include those who pop up in chapter three and leave in chapter 10. We may miss those characters as we reach chapter 11, but we are only left to wonder how much better the story will get. As hard as it is to cope with the loss of someone, specifically in a non-death sense, there is always a valuable lesson that exists within that change. Even if that person ends up sucking, they were a part of your life and your story for a reason. We can use the concept of book plots to view change in all ways. The changes we experience in our lives happen for a reason, and it may not be clear as day or take a few years to realize. As we enter 2022, I think it’s important we start to view change as something that will eventually be beneficial and to start differentiating the things we can and cannot control. It can suck, there is no denying that, but at the end of it all, change is something we all need in our lives. 

Third, physical health. This can tag along with mental health in many ways, and sometimes isn’t the easiest thing to maintain, but nevertheless, it’s important. In times like we’re in now with this pandemic, physical health is incredibly important. Making changes to this can come in many ways and is obtainable to some degree for everyone. Some ways to maintain physical health in the new year are drinking more water (calling myself out on this one), exercising more often (also calling myself out on this one), going to your doctor or dentist regularly or eating healthier. These changes can start off small, by walking around your neighborhood every few days or changing your diet in small ways to benefit your body. These things can be hard, especially if you deal with finding motivation or energy on a day-to-day basis, but I promise you they’re possible and worth it. Similar to putting emphasis on our mental health, physical health matters just as much. These bodies of ours work hard every day, they house all of our bones, muscles and organs. This may sound like I’m just stating the obvious, and I kind of am, but it can be so easy to forget how important it is to take care of ourselves physically. If this is something you plan on working on in 2022, I think it’s important to remember to set goals for yourself that will be easily attainable at first and work your way up from there. If you’re anything like me, if I fail to achieve my goal I get discouraged quickly. To change that, I plan on starting to set attainable goals for myself that I know I can achieve, and slowly working myself up to the ultimate goal. Maintaining physical health can be tricky, sometimes things fail or are harder to maintain than others, but it’s so important. Plus, I want you all to live long, healthy lives.

Lastly, eat more pizza. This is slightly contradictory to my last point but equally as important to all of the things listed above. Unless you don’t like pizza, which is unfortunate, but I would suggest eating more of some delicious food you do like. For those who do like pizza though, eat more of it. 

If you choose not to remember any of these things as we enter the new year, at the very least choose to be kinder to yourself and others in some way. Life is never easy, things can change, things can suck, and everything may feel like it’s crumbling down around you. However, please never lose sight of how important you are and how important it is to take care of yourself. It’s not selfish to put your well-being first, change is good, drink your water and treat yourself to some pizza.  Take the new year by storm, make it your own, and have a blast. Be proud of yourself for getting this far and for all the cool things you’ve done. All in all, be healthy, be safe, be kind (to yourself and others), and be well. 

Hi! My name is Jenna Godin. I'm a senior Sociology major at the University of New Hampshire!
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