We know you heard it. Maybe you even said it: that 2020 was one of the worst years in our lifetimes and it needed to end as quickly as it began, hoping the next new year would bring change and the end of a pandemic.

Happy New Year?

New Year’s always brings about a sense of optimism, but this year feels different; a lot of us are more cautious than hopeful. Without a doubt, 2020 was a difficult year. However, many social media posts and memes spent the month of December wishing it away, urging time to speed into 2021. Realistically, nothing changed on January 1; we still need to socially distance, wear masks, and avoid eating out at restaurants. We have a vaccine in progress, but it’s going to take at least six months before we can reasonably expect the general population to get vaccinated.

If you read our blog post on New Year’s Resolutions, you learned that many times they fail to materialize into long-term change. A lot of us struggled with our mental and physical health in 2020, with gym closures and lack of social interaction. Exercise at home is difficult for many, where there is less motivation and less equipment. Physical activity is so important for one’s mental health, so if you had trouble with one, it was entirely plausible (likely, even) you had trouble with the other. Maybe you’re still struggling with anxiety and depression, since we also know seasonal affective disorder can disrupt even the most resilient among us. Exercise is probably the last thing you want to do when you feel down.

Carry it forward!

With all that we learned about ourselves in 2020, let’s not forget it in 2021. Take walk breaks intentionally, rather than as an excuse to get out of the house. Take deep breaths regularly throughout the day, regardless of whether you’re feeling stressed or COVID-fatigued. Call your friends and family often, even after you’re able to see them in person again. If you’re having a difficult time, there is no shame in asking for help. Offer to help if you see someone struggling. Let’s not take each other for granted anymore. Create a new normal that involves better health, better self-care, and awareness of your community.

We all made it through a tough year; we lived to tell the tale. Happy New Year, and cheers to 2021!