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Start as you mean to go on…

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One of the most popular memes of 2020 was the “how it started – how it’s going” meme. Anything from Trump’s inauguration in 2017 to his defeat in November 2020 became fodder for these memes. If we were to create one for 2021, despite our hopes and optimism, it would show possibly a day or two of hope followed by chaos.

Just six days into the year we were hoping to see the back of Trump in America, White Power and Privilege ransacked Capitol Hill in a rampant attack on democracy.

The UK, in the meantime, is recording thousands of new cases of COVID-19 and record number of deaths, while European Union is scrambling for the vaccines. Many scientists, including the creators of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine, claim life will not go back to normal until the end of the year.

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There is so much doom and gloom the human spirit can handle, especially having survived the year 2020.

Set three new challenges for the year
First, let’s be clear; these are not New Year’s resolutions. 2021 is set to be another burdensome year so there is no need to add any more burden to your life. Think of these as challenges you’d like to ace – do you want to take up a new hobby or smash your running time? Do you want to finally shed the excess weight? Set yourself three tough but realistic challenges so you can continue motivating yourself even when your spirits are low. In the meantime, as you work towards your goal, celebrating the small wins will also help cheer you up and on.

Keep a gratitude journal
2020 was the year we discovered just how much we had to be grateful for. Sadly, for many, this coincided with losing some of those things they took for granted and no longer had. You may think it is unfair that you have to get up at dawn to commute to your office on the other side of the city while half the world is still working remotely. Let’s reframe: At least you still have a job to commute to. To help practise gratitude, try to keep a gratitude journal where you write down three things you are grateful for every day and why. When you’re doing this, don’t simply and just write down ‘family’ or ‘friends’ – instead, dig deeper to really focus on what makes you feel grateful for them.

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Practise mindfulness
It is so easy and tempting in the world we live in to doom-scroll as soon as you wake up or just before you go to sleep. Instead, try to put your phone away before you go to bed and try not to pick it up for the first 15 minutes when you wake up. Try to focus on yourself and your breathing in those few precious moments and settle your mind. In the morning, a few minutes of calm will set you in the right frame of mind for the day and before bedtime, they will help clear your mind and help you get a good night’s sleep.

Show kindness
2020 has touched so many in so many ways, and many of us carry our crosses differently. Some lost loved ones; others lost their businesses or homes. Some soldiered on silently, but still feel the mental impact of months of anxiety and lack of social and physical contact. As much as certain situations and people may try your patience, try to practise kindness. In all this, don’t forget: kindness begins at home.

Be in the moment and enjoy it
For a short while in March when the world came to a standstill, for a few precious weeks, we resolved to take a break from the mad rush of our day-to-day lives. Soon, it was all over as if it hadn’t happened, like pressing play on a paused film. In a world, when tomorrow is never guaranteed – as we saw like never before in 2020 – be present in the moment and make the most of it.

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