Someone might as well say it: 2020 sucked. If you've spent the bulk of this year pinching yourself in the hopes of waking up from what must be a bad dream, you are definitely not alone. In fact, if the events of the past twelve months were made into a movie script, critics would call the plot ridiculous. After all, reality has no place for a film about a global pandemic that also includes infernos, locusts, floods, riots, and murder hornets. Unless, of course, the movie takes place in 2020, the year that lost its mind.
Thankfully, this year is almost over and it's time for us to bid it a not-so-fond farewell and kick it to the curb. Hard. With steel-toed boots on. And the best way to do so is to show the last few days of 2020 that it didn't defeat us. In fact, we are ready to embrace 2021 with an attitude of hope, renewal, and celebration.
If you're not sure how to go about preparing your mind, body, and soul for a greatly improved New Year, here are 10 ways to end 2020 on a high note.
1. Express gratitude
The past 365 days likely weren't the greatest, but they weren't all bad. Good things happened too. Instead of dwelling on what's gone wrong this year, it's time to focus on your blessings—your family and friends, the roof over your head, your many talents, and all the other things we so often take for granted. The truth is that when you actually start to count the positives in your life, your entire perspective shifts from dreary to cheery. In fact, according to Harvard University, gratitude is linked to greater happiness, more positive emotions, improved health, and stronger relationships.
Whether you send someone a thank you note, create a gratitude journal, or give thanks to a higher power, an attitude of gratitude has countless benefits. And with your new upbeat outlook, you will be better prepared to embrace the last few days of this irksome annum and approach 2021 with optimism and enthusiasm.
2. Do for others
Sometimes the best way to overcome our own problems is to tackle someone else's. Not only does this new focus make our own troubles seem smaller in comparison, but helping others truly nurtures your soul. According to Psychology Today, volunteering boosts our sense of well-being, lowers depression, and increases our sense of meaning and purpose. Perhaps, you can do grocery shopping for an elderly person, volunteer at your local food bank, or adopt a shelter animal. Even during a global health crisis, there are plenty of things that we can do to make our own corner of the world a little brighter.
3. Pursue your passion
One upside to life during Covid 19 is that we all have a little more free time. By now, you've likely grown weary of organizing closets, trying new recipes, and online shopping. Why not make the most of this gift of time and pursue a passion? Do you love to paint, but rarely find the time? Have you always wanted to compose a novel? Whether you dream of mastering a new instrument, exploring a new hobby, or taking an online course, now is the perfect opportunity. And nothing renews your spirit quicker than the pursuit of something that truly sparks joy. In fact, the New York Times cites a study that shows that pursuing one's passion lowers stress and feelings of sadness, contributing to an overall sense of happiness. And right now, we can all use a little more bliss.
4. Set goals
Human beings need to possess a sense of purpose. If this pandemic has left you feeling listless, almost as if you don't have a reason to get out of bed, you have likely lost sight of your goals. Now, is the perfect time to remember what it is that you long to accomplish in your life and make doable plans to see these achievements come to fruition. Are you longing to get fit, start a new blog, acquire more Twitter followers, or finally let your hair transition to gray? There is nothing stopping you from making these dreams a reality in 2021. So draw up your plan, check off your accomplishments, and bask in the glory of a goal achieved.
5. Immerse yourself in nature
It's hard to feel stressed when you're beneath a canopy of trees, deep in the forest, where the only noise is a gentle breeze sending the leaves aflutter. If you've been feeling a tad overwhelmed by everything that 2020 has thrown at you, communing with nature will provide you with much needed relief. The Business Insider adds that time with the trees can provide stress relief, restore your mental energy, improve concentration, boost your immune system, and increase creativity. Wow!
If you can't make it out to your nearest wooded copse, you may want to do the next best thing—immerse yourself in the sounds and smells of nature in your own home. Flip to the fireplace channel or turn on Planet Earth on Netflix and light a few spruce-scented candles. Close your eyes and relax. You are now ready to embrace the New Year.
6. Pamper yourself
The pandemic may have erased most of the social functions on your calendar, but that doesn't mean you can't make yourself pretty just for you. Paint your nails, give yourself a home manicure, slather yourself in your best moisturizer, and keep those brows neatly plucked. And be sure to give your treasured mane the attention it deserves. After all, you don't want to have to face 2021 still sporting your quarantine hair.
One of the best ways to ensure that your follicles are happy and healthy is to create and maintain the right hair care routine, treat it to a healthy DIY hair mask and experiment with some new updos and styles. And, if you really want to wow them in the New Year, treat your tresses to top quality hair extensions for added length and volume.
7. Be present in the moment
In a society that celebrates multi-taskers, we've been conditioned to juggle multiple focusses at one time. Add in the distraction of a worldwide pandemic, and many of us have developed the attention span of a dog in a room full of squirrels. This poses a problem. While our brains are busily processing the information around us, we often miss out on the actual "experience" of life.
Instead of hurriedly wolfing down your meal, take slower bites, and savour the flavours. Put the phone down and take in your surroundings. Smile at the people walking by (even though your mask may cover it), embrace the cool air, and truly take in the "here and now." After all, renowned psychologist, Abraham Maslow, boldly states, "The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness." So cast aside those distractions and give this day—and those to follow—your full attention.
8. Choose happiness
A lot of things happen in life that are beyond our control. The one thing we can control; however, is how we react to those things. Instead of opting for a negative take on our situation, why not choose happiness? Yes, happiness is a choice. And, as multiple experiments have shown, simply trying to be happier can improve your mood and elevate your sense of well-being. That's good news!
How can you best support your decision to be happy? Surround yourself with positive people, focus on the good things, listen to upbeat music, read happy books, and smile, even when you don't feel like it. And be thankful that the glass is half full instead of sad that it's half empty.
9. Practise mindfulness
While we have already discussed one aspect of mindfulness—being present in the moment—there is another important aspect that will prepare us for making 2021 our best year yet. We need to keep tabs on our thoughts. If the reel that is running through your head is telling you negative things about yourself, your situation, or the world around you, you need to press the stop button. Switch reels and, instead, give your attention to positive thoughts.
There are tools that can help you shift your focus and maintain it more easily. Whether you opt to meditate, go for a run in a peaceful place, or turn your troubles over to a higher power, your mind and body will thank you. After all, when the brain is at peace, your whole body feels better.
10. Dance like no one is watching
Yeah, we know this one is cheesy AF, but there's a reason why it works! Make sure the house is empty, close the drapes, crank up your favourite tunes and cut loose! Move that body. Don't worry about your lack of coordination or rhythm. The whole point to this exercise is to liberate your limbs and become lost in the music. And have some fun.
The fact is that dancing is not only good for your cardiovascular system, but according to Idaho State University it can also increase the brain's white matter and lower social anxiety. Plus, it's hard to feel glum when you're busting a move to a great song.
While we will be donning masks and social distancing for some time to come, embracing these new norms does not mean we can't experience an amazing 2021. It's all a matter of perspective. So dig in to a new hobby, do some good deeds, check out a nearby nature trail, and don't forget to DANCE.
Written by: Kimberley Laws