If you haven’t noticed, we are already three full months into the New Year — but that doesn’t mean it is too late to make resolutions. For most people, 2020 was beyond abysmal, and even though you are starting 2021 in the midst of the pandemic, you don’t have to wallow in woe for the next nine months.
Changing your lifestyle to improve your mental outlook doesn’t have to be revolutionary. Here are a few relatively small changes to your lifestyle that will radically improve how you feel in 2021:
Take Control of Your Health
Sometimes, neglecting your health can feel like self-care. Lounging on the couch and eating comfort foods can be soothing when it gives your body and mind some much-needed time and space to relax. However, during long periods of stress — like a global pandemic — neglecting your health isn’t a smart way to cope.
Physical and mental health are closely linked; many mental disorders cause physical symptoms, and a lack of physical health can result in psychological concerns. The sooner you commit to managing your health holistically, the sooner you can start feeling happier and stronger in your life. If necessary, you can always talk to a health care provider on a telehealth platform like https://everydaydoctor.com/ to receive diagnoses and treatment plans.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Psychology research has found that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. Regardless of how many obstacles and setbacks you have encountered over the past 12 months, you undoubtedly have something to be grateful for — and you should keep track of those positive aspects of your life in a journal.
While it might be tempting to make a list of good things in your life, it is much better to closely examine each good thing in its own dedicated journal entry. Once or twice per week, you should devote an hour or so to writing in your journal, ideally about people or experiences that make your life better as opposed to physical objects. When you are feeling down, you can page through your entries to see how much meaning your life has.
Commit to Connecting With Loved Ones
Humans are social animals. Even if you identify as an introvert, you need regular social interaction to stimulate your brain, lowering your risk of various psychological and neurodegenerative diseases. Despite the term “social distancing,” the pandemic is no excuse to stop all contact with the outside world, especially when it comes to connecting with your loved ones.
If you have endured long stretches of social isolation during the past year, you might need to get back in the habit of spending time with friends and family. Once you are fully vaccinated, you can gather with other fully vaccinated people in small groups. Until then, you should set up recurring Zoom meetings with loved ones, which will help you get in the habit of seeing and enjoying the company of others.
Declutter, Declutter, Declutter
Your physical environment has a major impact on your physical and emotional health. There are plenty of things you can do to make your home a more positive place, like inviting sunlight by opening blinds and shutters or keeping your kitchens and bathrooms clean of grime, but one relatively quick, one-time activity to boost your space is decluttering. Whether you follow an organization guru’s procedure for decluttering or simply toss out the stuff you don’t need or want, kicking your clutter will help reduce your stress and bring on greater contentment.
Listen to Understand
After a long period of physical and social isolation, you might be a bit more dismissive of other people’s perspectives. When you aren’t often confronted by differing opinions, you are more likely to ignore or outright quarrel with any you encounter. However, those with viewpoints different to yours likely have reasons for developing their opinions. Instead of immediately rallying against an idea that conflicts with your beliefs, you should strive to listen to another’s views with the intention of understanding as opposed to persuading. If they are receptive, you might explain your view in turn, and you both can leave the conversation with broadened knowledge and greater compassion.
Start Your Savings Journey
The economy is lurching back to normal with many people returning to work as usual. If your finances were disrupted in 2020, you aren’t alone; likely, your emergency savings were depleted at some point during the year, and if you are in a more stable financial position, it is a good time to start building your savings back up. There are many good strategies for making saving easier, even automatic, and you can choose one that works best for your lifestyle.
It is never too late to change your life for the better. Small tweaks to your lifestyle can revolutionize your attitude, giving you happier memories to associate with 2021 — even if the pandemic lingers on.