2020 has been an incredibly difficult year. COVID-19 has caused illness and loss of lives, triggered an economic recession, led to the loss of millions of jobs, and left us all reeling. We are all hoping for so much more in 2021.
Of course, we need to be realistic. The calendar is only a means of measuring time. There is no magical moment at which everything will change, leaving the struggles of 2020 in the dust.
However, this does not have to be a bad thing. For those of us who have battled anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, the expectations put on a new year can feel overwhelming. It feels as if you have to change everything in your life for the better. And this is not only unrealistic but impossible.
Yes, things are incredibly tough right now, but hoping against all reason for that to suddenly change is not healthy. It places too many expectations, not only on the world, but on yourself.
To help you stay grounded as we enter the new year, here is a mental health checklist for 2021.
- Check in with how you are feeling daily. Because you are expected to feel a certain way about the new year, make sure to keep track of your real feelings instead.
- Check in with your loved ones. You’re not the only one balancing expectations with how you actually feel. Even if your loved ones seem to be handling the transition to the new year perfectly well, ask how they’re feeling and pay attention to their answers.
- Make a list of how you can be kinder to yourself in 2021. You don’t have to try to be better just because it is a new year. However, you can use the opportunity to start practicing more self love.
- Keep your routine going. A new year can be overwhelming because of the expectations that you will leave the previous year behind. To avoid that, maintain what you have been doing through the holidays and into the new year. This way, you will feel grounded and not lost at sea.
- Forget new year resolutions. Almost no one actually sticks to their new year resolutions. They are a recipe for anxiety and set you up for disappointment.
- Stay safe. Just because the year is ending does not mean COVID-19 will go with it. Continue to take care of yourself by following the guidelines for social distancing. This may be lifesaving for you and your loved ones.