We’re ringing in a new year unlike any other. While life has changed dramatically in 365 days, the benefits of creating New Year’s resolutions are still relevant. According to Ankur Desai, MD, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist on staff at CentraState, New Year’s resolutions can help us put our best foot forward in a time of uncertainty.
“The pandemic has helped us prioritize what’s truly important – emotional well-being, healthy living, and relationships with loved ones – and these ideals may be reflected in our goals for the new year,” says Dr. Desai.
Dr. Desai shares some healthy resolution ideas for 2021 – and how to stick with them as challenges arise.
Mental Health Matters
As the pandemic continues into the new year, people may experience distressing feelings of sadness, anxiety, grief, and uncertainty. Others diagnosed with mental illnesses may feel particularly isolated.
“Make 2021 the year of putting your mental health first—whether it’s through finding ways to stay connected to the present moment, or by reaching out to licensed professionals to deal with emotional well-being issues,” says Dr. Desai. “Focus on today and what you can control.”
Commit to Staying Connected
The pandemic has restricted our ability to be with people, which can have an isolating effect. Instead of playing into the feeling of loneliness, commit to making the most of your time with loved ones through safe measures: utilizing video and phone calls or participating in socially responsible meetings while taking the recommended precautions of wearing masks and social distancing.
“Work on relationships with close friends and family who matter most to you,” says Dr. Desai.
Lead an Active Lifestyle
Improving physical fitness is a typical resolution—but Dr. Desai recommends looking inward to find an exercise or an active hobby that you truly enjoy to make a healthy lifestyle more fulfilling. Optimizing physical fitness is a great way to ensure overall physical and emotional health in these challenging times, and it also can help minimize potential complications from health challenges like COVID-19.
“In the most conventional of times, resolutions can focus on how we think we appear to others,” says Dr. Desai. “With the pandemic in mind, commit to being physically active to benefit your own mind, body, and overall health.”
Be the Star Chef of Your Kitchen
Dieting is another well-known resolution. Dr. Desai suggests a new perspective on “dieting” this year—eating healthy foods you enjoy to boost the immune system and put you on a path to a healthier life.
“We’re eating differently now; the pandemic has changed how we shop for groceries, prepare meals, and dine out,” says Dr. Desai. “Being home more often, we have the time and freedom to explore cooking and try new healthy food options.”
In a time when it may feel like we have lost so much, practicing gratitude habitually may boost your emotional well-being and set the tone for a happier new year.
“We deserve a pat on the back for what we have endured,” says Dr. Desai. “We have the opportunity for a rejuvenated outlook on what we have and what not to take for granted.”