Ready for a fresh start? We’ve all had some rough years, but 2020 has been particularly awful—a pandemic, civil unrest, devastating fires, economic woes, and a contentious election are just some of the things that have made these past 12 months unbearable. If you’re figuring out your New Year’s resolutions for 2021, we have some suggestions to consider. 

Focus on Gratitude

During the pandemic, many people lost their lives, loved ones, jobs, or homes. If you managed to make it through 2020, consider focusing on gratitude next year. It may not feel like it, but there are so many things for which to be thankful. 

So many things went wrong in 2020—have you fallen into a cycle of complaining about how your life was impacted? Even if you experienced hardship, you’re alive to see the beginning of another year. Make a conscious effort to be grateful for what you have, and allow your perspective to shift towards a more positive outlook. 

Practice Empathy

It’s hard to think of a time when our world has felt more divided. We’ve spent the last year pointing fingers at each other for almost everything. They didn’t vote for the right person. They aren’t doing the right things. They don’t know what they are talking about. At the same time, many of us were too focused on ourselves. What about me

We don’t know what anyone else’s life is truly like, but we can try. Look around at your fellow humans; they’ve been trying to navigate this mess right alongside you. If we stop being so selfish and look at life through the lens of others, we can begin to practice empathy. Our goal should be to work together as a community so that we can all get through this. 

Learn About Racism

In 2020, particularly over the summer, we saw racial tensions boil over. While in the middle of a pandemic, this country was also facing civil unrest. Some immediately responded with disdain, others tuned it all out, but many took the opportunity to lean in and learn more. 

Going back to empathy, it’s important to look at issues like racism from someone else’s perspective. Push past the sensational headlines, and really look at what’s happening. Skip the social media wars and read books, watch documentaries, and engage in conversations with people you trust. Ask questions with a goal of understanding. You might be surprised by what you learn. 

Avoid Fake News

It’s unfortunate, but the term “fake news” has become part of our lexicon. It gets thrown around a lot more than it should, though. As a result, not only are people reluctant to trust the information they hear, but they also call anything they disagree with “fake news,” too. For some, it’s much easier to dismiss something as “fake” or untrue than to accept reality or make inconvenient changes in their lives. 

Whenever you hear something, especially if it involves public health and safety, do your own research. Remember, anyone can create a YouTube channel or website—having a platform does not make someone trustworthy. Above all else, do thorough research and determine whether a source is credible before sharing “news” with others. We have to work together to stop the spread of misinformation. 

Better Health

We’ve all heard about “the COVID-19.” No, not the virus, but the 19-20 pounds many have gained while they binged on Netflix and snacks while quarantined. We’ve become more sedentary and depressed, isolated from loved ones, and disconnected from our hopes and dreams than ever before. Looking ahead, there are many things that will be beyond our control—but that doesn’t mean you should give up. 

What aspects of your health have suffered? If you’ve put on weight or feel more out of shape, work on your diet and find ways to get exercise, even if you’re staying home (YouTube and fitness apps are a great option!). If your mental health has suffered, seek out virtual counseling services or free online support groups. Feeling hopeless? Work on a vision board to bring your dreams back to life. 

FaceTiming to stay connected with loved ones doesn’t feel like enough, but remind yourself that this is all temporary. It may feel like it’s going to last forever, but it won’t. Things will get better, slowly but surely. Until then, do what you can to protect your own health, and that of those around you.