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After an incredibly challenging year that took its toll on many aspects of our individual and societal wellbeing, many of us are looking to 2021 with hopes to reclaim our wellness. Doing so requires doing a personal inventory and considering which areas we may need extra attention and care as we cautiously enter the next year.
The physical component of wellness is one that we are all too familiar with, particularly after a year of being bombarded with worries and mandates for maintaining our health and safety. It’s also a component that many of us struggle to maintain, year in and year out. All too common are the New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, to exercise more often, to sleep more, and to do other activities that will improve our physical health.
There’s no doubt that when you’re feeling better physically, it can bolster other aspects of your wellness. And working to stay physically healthy now will improve our prospects for health in the future. However, it’s also the component that seems to take an unfair percentage of our attention when it comes to the bigger picture of wellness.
Physical health and emotional wellbeing are intrinsically linked. We have a responsibility to care for our emotions just as much as our bodies. As we enter a new year following one of great emotional turmoil, it’s essential to do an assessment of our mental health and determine what steps we could take to bolster it, to understand our feelings, and to develop more positive, constructive ways of managing our emotions. And given the incredible emotional toll of the past year, seeking support from mental health professionals is a great resource to explore.
The other mental component of wellness is our intellectual health. As a new year unfolds, we can look to expand our knowledge in key areas of interest, learn new skills, and discover how we can share our knowledge with others. The retreat from traditional in-person social obligations may present an opportunity to pick up a new craft or skill. Cultivating a mindset of curiosity and intention for lifelong learning will sharpen our intellectual wellness and help us serve others in the New Year, too.
With the assessment of our intellect and skills comes the assessment of our vocation. The widespread unemployment brought by the pandemic makes the quest for vocational wellness a luxury for many. But for some, it may have brought forth the motivation to break away from your current line of work and try something you’re truly passionate about. Does your work go beyond paying the bills and actually enrich your life? Do the jobs we hold mirror our goals and our values? Do our jobs allow us to make the most of our special talents and skills in contributing to society? Given that our work hours comprise such a large percentage of our lives, it is essential that we find work that is meaningful in order to maintain overall wellness.
Hand-in-hand with vocation comes the financial component of our wellness. The beginning of a new year is commonly when we are looking to clean up debts from overspending on the holidays, and lay out a roadmap to accomplish our financial goals. For some it’s getting out of debt, or saving for retirement or purchasing a home. For others it’s simply trying to navigate the financial hardships that a pandemic year has brought and figuring out how to get back on our feet in the new year. We have to remind ourselves that our financial situation and wellbeing is unique to us, and getting support from professionals can be helpful to getting back on solid ground.
The past year has challenged our social and spiritual wellbeing in numerous ways, from being forced into isolation by the pandemic and having to reinvent the ways we engage with the people we love and our spiritual community. Many of us have been grappling with loneliness and feeling the effects of not being able to see our loved ones or physically embrace them. We’ve also been pulled from the places and activities where we practice our faith. The coming year calls us to continue working to maintain our connection to our friendships, families, and spiritual communities however we can – to boost our own wellness and that of others.
The final component that affects our wellness is our environment. 2020 brought a lot of changes and limitations to our physical and social environments, forcing us to work, socialize, exercise, and simply exist in limited places. For some, it brought an appreciation for the safety and stability of home. For others, it was a struggle to maintain wellness after being restricted in and from the places and spaces we would typically move freely about. Some of us found a deeper appreciation for the natural environment as a place to escape, to breathe deeply, to play, and to witness our human impact on the planet. Moving forward in 2021, we look to better understand how the environments we inhabit and visit affect our wellbeing, and how we affect the health of the world around us.
After a year of continuous trauma, loss, isolation, and worry about the future, it is essential that we make a conscious effort to take care of ourselves, and those around us, in 2021. While fine tuning every component of wellness in a single year following a global pandemic is unlikely, we can choose the components of wellness that resonate the most and start there.
In tough times, our efforts to maintain fitness, healthy nutrition, and personal wellness can fall by the wayside as we direct all our energy into navigating our individual storm. Yet, in the face of what’s happening in the world around us, it is essential to make space for self-care and experiences that fortify our physical and mental wellbeing.
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Trying to manage a proper work-life balance, saving for your future while paying all your bills, all while keeping strong relationships with friends and family… We know that life can get pretty stressful, and it’s easy to forget what’s best for your health both physically and mentally. Project Best Life is here to help with our podcast: Happy and Healthy. We provide tips from experts and share stories that will inspire you to live your best life, whatever that means to you. Listen now on Apple Podcasts | Spotify