It's fair to say that leaving 2020 behind would not be sad for most people.
It's a natural time to reflect on our lives and what we may want to improve, as we prepare to ring in 2021 and look forward to a new year. But it is safe to conclude that many of our New Year's resolutions will look different this year, too, after a year that's been anything but "normal."
Some people have understood the importance of relationships and bonds with family and friends in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, while others are coming to terms with being spread so thin and are not adequately caring for themselves.
Of course, their toll has been taken by collective and personal losses, too.
Taking all of this into account, rethinking some of the conventional resolutions we prefer to make is probably a smart idea.
In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, if you have one of the seven common goals below for the new year, here's how mental health experts recommend you handle them differently.
With a year as stressful as 2020, it's inevitable that a few extra pounds might have been placed on by many people.
It has become easier for us to eat our way to warmth, snooze instead of going, and numb out with sitcoms, movies, alcohol, or other drugs by sheltering in place.
But as soon as the clock hits midnight January 1, rather than beating yourself up and sticking to a strict diet and exercise routine.
Perhaps a healthier way to approach and live in 2021 is with kindness and compassion for ourselves as well as others, amid all the stresses and challenges of this year.
Kick an unhealthy habit
It's tempting to rely on unhealthy coping strategies that can temporarily relieve stress, such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or even chewing your nails, with everything that's happened this year.
The opportunity to change your ways is still readily accessible to you, whether it's a bad habit you picked up this year or one you've been living with for longer.
There is never a better time to set an intention to enhance your life and learn to handle stress in a healthy way than the present.
Replacing these types of coping strategies with healthy ones is one of the most effective ways to eliminate them.
Another strategy is to gradually decrease the activity you intend to modify. Finally, whether it is a friend checking in on your progress or a weekly appointment with a therapist, remain accountable to someone.
Spend more time with family and friends
This is a particularly complicated resolution considering that millions have been forced to remain isolated from loved ones by the pandemic.
Even, even though physically removed, there are ways to remain connected.
Get a board game night together on sites for video chat. The board and pieces have one person or kin, and encourage the movements for all. Or try charades or a scavenger hunt for the family. Be imaginative.
Other ways to remain linked include reading and sharing the same book or watching the same TV program, sending care packages to each other, and connecting through "old-fashioned" means, such as writing a letter or talking on the telephone.
Prioritize your mental health
If there has ever been a year for us to support our mental health and respect it, this is it.
One way, to boost mental wellbeing is to work on self-awareness and be as present as possible so that you can check in with yourself at any given moment and know what you feel, think, and physically experience.
Be conscious of the relation between the three: thought, thinking, and feeling in the body.
Reach out for assistance to a trustworthy family member or friend, and take part in events that make you feel good. If you're emotionally suffering to the point that your physical health and personal and professional life are impaired, seek support.
In the near future, traveling for fun may not be available to most people, but there are several ways you can remain linked with the concept of travel and look forward to future trips.
Many popular destinations offer local museums, zoos, animal sanctuaries, and parks with virtual tours that you can take now and look forward to visiting physically when you are actually there.
Now is also a perfect opportunity to aspire to become a more socially aware traveler by reading about the history and culture of a country that you have always wanted to visit, learning new language conversational phrases, and supporting the local businesses of places to which you have loved to travel.
Repair a strained relationship with a loved one
Reflecting on the 2020 traumas could lead us to a desire to reach out to a friend or family member with whom we have a strained relationship or who we have fallen out of contact with.
It's necessary, however, to be honest with yourself and do so only if you have the time and energy.
One has to go through a phase like that, recognizing and realizing that the result cannot be regulated or expected. So, to realize that the relationship cannot change, you have to be able to be disappointed.
Starting slowly and connecting, whether by phone, in person, or by email, in a way that you're used to.
Learn a new hobby
Learning something different will do wonders for your mental health, whether it's a major project like learning to play a musical instrument or a less stressful one like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
Any new hobby you pick up is extremely helpful, and particularly so at this time when we're at home quarantined.
This year's monotony with most individuals working and living in the same room makes it feel at times like Groundhog Day. So, it makes a big difference to something new you might bring to the routine.
And if you're not up to making a resolution this year at the end of the day, don't feel stressed.
Setting an intention to change can and should be made at any time of the year. There should be no reason to feel bad about it if you want to set a target on January 15 to lose weight. Your resolutions are yours alone, but January 1 does not have to be confined to them.