2020 was not the year we anticipated when we rang in the New Year, mask-free and in crowds of loved ones with champagne flutes aplenty.
Now nearly one year later, it’s completely understandable that you may not feel compelled to be productive in the present, holding onto hope that in the future, things will change.
The pandemic has been dreadful and unkind, so it’s valid that many people are just taking time for themselves, delaying their goals for a later date. Now with a brand new year approaching, it is the time to explore new routines, motivations, and passions that can literally be a gift of self-kindness to ourselves. We don’t have to look at them as New Year resolutions, just a simple attempt to fuel our lives with happiness.
This list is created for everyone who still believes the new year can bring new beginnings. These 21 ways to be kinder to yourself in 2021 – from mood-boosting exercises, to self-care products and even a book that reminds you of how resilient you are – can give you a starting point for weaving empathy into your daily life. So, without further ado, here’s how to help make 2021 a happier and kinder year for yourself – because you deserve it!!!
Engage Your Body and Mind
(1) Reading is one of the best ways for you to be kinder to your soul. According to an article from Healthline, reading “reduces stress,” helps alleviate depression symptoms, and strengthens your brain.” Even if you wouldn’t call yourself an avid reader, reading can also help you escape reality, such as with a classic fantasy series like
(2) “The Hunger Games” Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, or help soothe your worries head-on with a motivational, self-help book like…
(3) “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero. In either case, whether you choose childhood nostalgia or newfound wisdom, adding a book to your shelf can give you a sense of determination.
(4) Practice the art of mindful meditation in 2021. Just because you can’t go crowd-surfing at concerts right now doesn’t mean you can’t go mind-searching. Upgrade your standard deck of 52 playing cards with these positive affirmation meditation cards. Become your mind’s Ace of Spades with this colorful and calming collection of self-care.
(5) Uplift those special to you by gifting them this other selection of affirmation cards – featuring a beautiful array of sunset colors to remind them just how bright they glow.
(6) Speaking of things that glow, adding a HappyLight to your bedroom and workspace is a surefire way to bring more light into your life in the coming year. This portable Verilux HappyLight is practical for on-the-go use and a safe and effective way to get natural light therapy. With the continued spread of COVID-19 and nationwide shutdowns, people are not going outside much. Not catching enough rays could negatively affect people’s levels of serotonin, which is a key hormone that helps to improve people’s moods, well-being and overall state of happiness. During this darker and colder season in particular, people could potentially develop seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD), according to Healthline. Investing in a HappyLight can hopefully elevate your mood and increase your level of productivity while remaining indoors.
(7) Maybe it’s the creative writing major in me, but journaling is a fantastic way to stay in touch with your soul, and there is such a wide selection of journals out there to help you become a better friend to yourself. For instance, there is a five-minute gratitude journal that is designed to focus on the good things in your life; with this, you spend some time in the morning and at night writing down reasons why you are grateful and how you can feel happier in the days to come.
(8) You can also go more in-depth with this 12-week guided journal to practice positive thinking and calm anxiety, or you can choose to dedicate less time to writing, but still be mindful, with this (9) five-year memory book that asks you to write down only one line a day. These are pretty simple, yet fulfilling, tasks to keep you on whichever track you wish to explore next. (10) There’s also this treasured option, beloved by writers everywhere: the classic Moleskine journal, which grants a free-flowing writing and/or sketching experience that is entirely up to you.
Remember to Relax
(11) You can fight “mascne” (face mask acne) by taking care of your skin. A product that has become a biweekly ritual of my own is this facial exfoliator from The Body Shop. And while catching a flight to Europe may not be a possibility right now, this cruelty-free option features a clean scent with mineral-rich seaweed from Ireland. Remember to treat your skin with kindness!
(12) White noise apps are great, but if you’re anything like me, the idea of having my phone “on” constantly, even when I’m not staring it down for hours on end, stresses me out a bit – hence why I recommend purchasing a white noise machine, like this one here. Calm your mind and fall asleep oceanside or in the midst of a thunderstorm – whichever is most soothing to you.
(13) Weighted blankets have become increasingly popular lately, and it’s no wonder why. These luscious blankets bring comfort to their loyal supporters and upon their heads hitting the pillow. With all the stress and fear perpetuated by the pandemic, perhaps purchasing one of these for yourself (or a loved one) will help you sleep better in the year to come.
(14) Here’s something to sip on- brewing a hot cup of tea is an excellent way to feel warm and comfortable. This stress relief and herbal tea sampler pack features not only my go-to Honey Lavender tea, but five other calming wellness blends – from spicy-sweet to citrus, each Yogi tea packet also includes words of wisdom that you can ponder while your (potentially new favorite) blend brews. My recent tea packet thoughtfully read, “Love is where compassion prevails and kindness rules.”
Create Your Own Goals and Words of Wisdom
There’s a popular belief that it takes 21 days to form a habit, which looks straightforward on paper, but habit-forming is not as simple as crossing out tasks in an engaging, manifestation calendar (15) like the popular Passion Planner that you can check out here. It takes drive and dedication to achieve your goals, and the path towards success is rarely linear for any of us.
(16) However, it’s great to keep track of your goals and encourage that pep in your step, which is why I recommend buying a whiteboard for your wall, like this one from U Brands. This option has a “notes” section and a corkboard, where you can thumbtack reminders and affirmations on post-it notes. (17) Or, if you wish to display a visual representation of your goals instead, creating a vision board is a fantastic way to put your desires and dreams into focus. Foresight is 2021!
(18) You don’t need to cut out social media completely, but make a mental note to avoid absentmindedly scrolling through Instagram for countless hours. When you lose track of time on apps like TikTok day after day – as so many of us, understandably, did in 2020 – you may begin to lose track of your goals and the core of who you are. This is due to the societal habit of comparing ourselves to others. When we give all our attention to others’ life paths, we begin to stumble and slow down on our own. You are beautiful the way you are now and who you are destined to become.
(19) Talk to yourself. It has certainly become easier to do this unnoticed in public, given the nationwide mandated mask policies, but, seriously – give yourself a moment (or two) every day to thank yourself for getting you to where you are now. Self-affirmations like “I am enough,” “I trust that I am on the right path” and “I forgive myself and set myself free” are such powerful ways to be kinder to yourself. Create your own words of wisdom, and trust that you are more than enough in this life. Reminder: you deserve happiness now, in 2021, and forevermore.
(20) Reflect on 2020 and other years past, but don’t reside in them. Look at how you’ve grown and all the good you’ve brought into your life, but view the future as a clean slate. My friend recently reminded me to be “gentler and kinder” towards myself during this time that has been unkind. Many people have felt hurt this year.
(21) Lastly, one of my biggest takeaways from 2020 is “It’s okay to not be okay,” which another friend told me back in May. It’s okay to just be during this time, and it’s okay if that’s all you can accomplish right now. Treating yourself and others with kindness is a skill that can help you discover happiness – and that’s an invaluable gift in and of itself.