2020 tested us beyond measure. The chaos an individual might witness in a lifetime was experienced and lived by the world in the past 12 months. Educational institutions were shut, tech corridors and offices stopped buzzing, roads were empty, and so were theatres, pubs, parking lots, and airports. The only place brimming with people were hospitals, where doctors and nurses fought day and night to save lives—while many survived, unfortunately, some lost the battle.
As the months went by, the death toll kept climbing. While we remained quarantined in our homes, witnessing the impact of the pandemic opened our eyes. We can’t take health and wellbeing for granted was the thought in everyone’s mind. It was as if the pandemic had made us realise a truth we all had forgotten—life is precious but fragile too.
Then something changed. We began to take health and wellbeing seriously. Social media was flooded with posts of people practising yoga and meditation. Personal hygiene became a movement. Eating healthy turned into a daily habit, and face mask, a daily need. Even the smog disappeared, and the constellations were visible—as we changed for good, the environment changed with us too.
No one knows what the future holds, for we are no fortune-tellers. But we can be fortune makers if we continue to keep wellbeing our foremost priority. So let’s begin 2021 by setting wellbeing goals for our mind and body, to be a better, healthier, and undaunted version of ourselves.
Live in the moment
From Greek philosophers to Persian poets, many have stressed on the importance of “living in the moment.” Today, after living in fear and stress for almost a year, we have almost forgotten to make peace with our present without being consumed by intrusive thoughts about the past or the future.
Let living in the moment be your wellbeing mantra for 2021. Put a reminder if you need it, but read the sentence every day, after you wake up and before bedtime. Let your brain register “the rule living” in 2021—not to dwell in the past or worry about the future. So every time stress finds you or fear haunts you, take a long deep breath, and remind yourself to live in the moment.
Sleep more, worry less
Remember the early days of the lockdown, when our lives looked straight out of the pages of a dystopian novel? It was only a few months ago when the fear of growing infection, home confinement and crashing economies gave us sleepless nights. The anxiety levels went through the roof. Lack of sleep became a great concern for experts as studies linked sleep deprivation with coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
During such worrying times, getting adequate sleep is the best thing we can do for ourselves. It puts our intrusive thoughts to rest and gives our minds a well-deserved break. These are just two of the many benefits sleep offers our mind and body. So in 2021, let’s make a goal to sleep more and worry less.
Meditate to levitate
Hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear about the importance of meditation. Describing the profoundness of meditation, Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh once said: “When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centered, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.”
When it comes to the benefits of meditation, the list is endless. But the most crucial of all is how it helps us manage our emotions and act altruistically, making us a better person in the long run. Pandemic or not, everyone should reap the healing benefits of meditation. It silences the mental noise and makes us ready for any curve ball life might throw at us.
A social media break
According to research, 51 percent of the global population use social media, spending an average of 144 minutes daily on scrolling and tapping. This number is bound to increase since the evolving technology of social media platforms are engineered to keep us glued to our screens. Also, several studies have linked constant exposure to social media with stress, loneliness, and low self-esteem. Hence, despite the benefits of social media, there is a need to regulate its use for our psychological and emotional wellbeing.
Make a goal to limit the usage of social media, especially before bedtime. As Harvard Medical School found in its study, blue light can suppress the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and disrupt the circadian rhythm, which may further “contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity”. Sounds scary, right? The good news is we can take control of our sleep cycle. Taking a social media break every now and then can ensure our health remains sound and our sanity intact.
Write for self-discovery
Where would we be today if writing was not invented thousands of years ago? It’s hard to tell. Spanning generations, writing has been the torchbearer of every culture. Today, we have reached the moon and beyond, built skyscrapers, manufactured vaccines, constructed long bridges and railway tracks, all because we can read and write. They are the roots of our growth and advancements. But the rewards of writing are not limited to experts and engineers, or poets and storytellers. A regular person, with the habit of writing, can reap its long list of benefits for a healthy mind and body.
Writing, whether it’s our random thoughts or darkest fears, can help us in self-discovery. Through writing, we can study our thoughts and inhibitions much better and draw a plan to address them. Research has also shown that those who write can fight stress and anxiety in a more effective way. So let’s start 2021 by cultivating the habit of writing to keep our erratic emotions in check and our minds healthy.
Volunteer for inner joy and contentment
Our environment needs us, today, now. Whether it’s the oceans, the air, or natural habitats, nature is calling for help. And we need to answer its call before it gets too late. Volunteering for our communities is one way in which we can do our part to contribute to the environment, and participate in the welfare of animals and the underprivileged.
Volunteering is one goal we all should keep in 2021. Not only does it help in strengthening communities, learning new skills, and making new friends, volunteering can also enhance our physical and mental wellbeing. Helping those who can’t help themselves, or fighting for a cause that is bigger than us, also opens the door for inner joy and contentment. And the best thing about volunteering is that it can inspire our friends and loved ones to join us as well.
Prioritise your goals
Prioritising our goals is also a goal we should keep in 2021. When there’s no visibility into what’s more important and what will take more time and bandwidth, all our goals and resolutions can crumble like a house of cards. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” So what matters to you the most—peace of mind, solitude, losing weight, or personal and professional growth? When you have the answer, prioritise your goals.