I think we can all agree it feels as if so much has happened in the past year and yet, nothing has happened. Staying focused on making personal progress or leveling up can be difficult when it seems like everything around you is going to shit. While it can be easy to become stagnant in a time when things are at a standstill, what will empower personal growth and resilience lies in the ability to keep it moving. Even in times of crisis, putting yourself first while putting yourself out there will inevitably lead to success.
Treat yourself with kindness
First and foremost, treat yourself with kindness. Do not forget we are still in a global pandemic. It is essential that you are loving and patient with yourself. For many of us, self-care is barely an afterthought. Practicing self-care sounds so obvious, but it’s not always easy, especially when you are dealing with anxiety related to the general health and well-being of yourself and your loved ones. In fact, according to a meta-analysis published just this past October, “studies of the general public revealed lower psychological well-being and higher scores of anxiety and depression compared to before COVID-19…” (Vindegaard & Benros, 2020).
Many of us need to begin by tending to our mental health, because of the trauma or vicarious trauma we have experienced. This can be done in so many ways; first and foremost, if you are experiencing depression and anxiety that will not go away, consider seeking mental health treatment. Achieving mental wellness and resilience through therapy is possible for many people, and it has never been easier to access a therapist and resources virtually now! Plus, therapy or counseling can even be beneficial for those who are not in crisis, too.
To deal with feelings of anxiety or depression on the day to day, many people are able to utilize healthy coping tools successfully; these can include exercise, art, meditation, mindfulness, music, journaling, positive affirmations, and many more. It can be helpful to find solace in connecting with your peers, albeit virtual or socially distanced. And of course, a nutritious diet and drinking plenty of water is recommended to keep the mind and body healthy. Doing your best to get enough sleep is another important way to show yourself love, too. Try to complete small tasks to maintain a sense of routine -doing something always feels better than doing nothing. If you treat your body and mind with respect, you lay a foundation for growth.
Practicing small acts of self-care is a good place to start. You do not have to do it all at once. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself right now. Instead, take as many moments as you need to slow down and reflect on what it is you are doing with all this time you have (or have not) been given since last March. Do things you love, and make yourself proud – setting and achieving personal goals, no matter the size, will help motivate you to do even more.
Get creative with achieving your goals
Now is the time to get creative. Like, as creative as possible. Determine what needs you want to meet, and do everything in your power to meet them. Evaluate the goals you had this time last year and ask yourself if you have the same ones now. Do you value the same things? Can you still head in the direction you were going? Try to break down the walls of what you thought was “normal”, because the world is far from it.
Understand that the moves you make now are planting seeds for the future. Are you looking for a new job? Cool, lots of places are hiring remotely now due to the pandemic. Also, a lot of people are working from home, meaning they are looking at their phones and computers periodically. Cold call someone who has a career you’re interested in and ask them questions. Send a couple emails, who knows, someone might bite and give you just the advice or career opportunity you are looking for. Want to work out more? There’s a million free quarantine-themed apps and workout videos on YouTube just waiting for you now. Want to finally get around to cleaning that bird poop off of your car? I’m sure there’s something for that on the internet, too.
Checking things off of our to-do lists, whatever they may be, feels good. Even as we accomplish the tiniest of tasks, we are working towards a greater goal. Holding yourself accountable for the ways in which you advocate for yourself keeps you grounded, confident, and motivated. Advocating for yourself means believing you deserve it and believing you have the means to achieve it.
Revel in the value you hold
A lot of us have a different perspective on our time here than we did this time last year. And, that’s okay. Understand that you have all the tools you need within yourself to overcome adversity and be successful, whatever that means to you. It sounds cliche but think about it – reflect for a moment on not only the past year but your life – the adversities you have faced, and the lessons learned. We are all stronger than we give ourselves credit for sometimes.
You have something to give to the world and you are worthy of being loved and giving it, too. Once you begin to truly love yourself, confidence follows. Building confidence is key. If you have confidence in yourself, you can achieve anything. And even if things don’t turn out the way you expect, you know you had the confidence to at least go for it. The revolution starts with you. It’s important to learn to value your strengths and utilize them to empower yourself and, sometimes more importantly, others. Making moves can come in the form of self-love, self-actualization, introspection, and reflection. You don’t have to physically make moves to make a meaningful change in your life.
It’s been said time and time again, but because it serves a purpose: do your best to let go of what no longer serves you. A lot of true colors were shown to us this past year in a lot of different ways. A lot of systems, ideas and habits were challenged or even demolished. Sometimes, it is best to let go of the things that might be holding us back and contributing more negativity than positivity -this goes for habits, relationships, and mindsets. This is not an easy feat, but with time it becomes easier and clearer to determine what is working for you, and what isn’t.
This year, we have all dealt with life-altering adversity. Some of us fared better than others. For many people, this year may have included losing a loved one or several, staying off the streets and keeping an income, and fighting to stay healthy. It is important to acknowledge that for a lot of Americans, making moves means more than starting online therapy or doing more meditation.
The moves you make are yours. Right before the pandemic hit, I was working a job I hated, I was going through a really tough breakup, and I was living at home with my mom and dad who are older and thus, in the midst of a global pandemic, I endured unparalleled anxiety. But as they say, nothing changes if nothing changes.
The world is begging for you to give it your all – with your brain, your art, your wit, your attitude, and your confidence. You can do this by maintaining the mantra that you will not just persevere but thrive. Revel in the knowledge that while you can’t control the world around you, you can control the moves you make to be successful in it.
Vindegaard, N. & Benros, M.E. (October 2020). COVID-19 pandemic and mental health consequences: Systematic review of the current evidence. Brain Behav Immun. ;89:531-542. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.05.048. Epub 2020 May 30. PMID: 32485289; PMCID: PMC7260522. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32485289/
About the author
Caroline Platzman is a Behavioral Health Counselor working with adults diagnosed with schizophrenia. She is passionate about mental health, journalism, nonprofit advocacy, and public relations. Caroline is also a dedicated guitarist and artist in her free time.
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