As we start the new year with cautious optimism, 2021 could actually be a great year
Although we all liked to think life would return to normal as the clock struck midnight on 31 December, the reality is that the pandemic is still with us. But with the development of the new vaccines and government rollouts around the world, things are starting to look up as we move forward.
If you have started 2021 feeling a bit despondent, there are a few ways to trick yourself into feeling more positive:
Say thank you
Spiritual leaders, mindset coaches and psychologists all seem to agree that gratitude is strongly linked to greater happiness. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. It helps you appreciate good experiences, build stronger relationships and, in some cases, help to improve your health.
Some easy ways to practice gratitude include thanking someone when they do or say something helpful or kind, or to keep track of all the little things that make you thankful in a gratitude journal. Some people keep a jar somewhere prominent and write down good things that happen onto bits of paper that they place inside. When they feel a bit glum or want to look back on the year in December, they empty it and read each one as they take stock of their blessings.
See the funny side
When it feels like everything is going wrong or that you’re experiencing a series of negative events, try to find the humor in each situation. If that seems impossible, imagine telling the story to a friend later or try to crack a joke to yourself.
If you lose your job, for example, try to imagine how you can spend your last day or try to think what the most absurd job you could do is. Remember, you’ve survived 100% of your worst days and you will get through this one too (and you’ll find another job).
Walk it off
Sometimes just spending too much time in your own head can be enough to send you down a negative spiral. If you’re not up for a full workout (and that’s ok!) take a 10-minute walk in your neighborhood, particularly since the weather is nothing short of glorious.
Walking will get your heart beating, your blood moving and provide a much-needed change of scenery. There are many benefits to any physical exercise, which include mood-boosting properties.
Make a plan
Sometimes when feeling low, or just “off,” it can spiral out of control and make you feel completely overwhelmed. Before you know it, you are drowning in panic without being 100% sure why. Take a few minutes to try and identify what is making you feel this way. Be specific. Write it down if you can. If there are potential outcomes that are making you feel stressed, list the actions you can take in the event if that happen. That way, if you find yourself panicking about them in the future, you can remind yourself that you have already planned for the outcome (and everything will be ok).
Try to remember that while some things are legitimately worth worrying about there are also plenty that are not. Try to stay calm and keep perspective on what is happening and what deserves your attention, and what you can change. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react.
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