2021: Thoughts and Advice So Far
So, here we are in 2021, still living through the ‘unprecedented circumstances’ that shaped 2020. For many, the New Year consisted of quiet celebration that 2020 was over, and optimism that 2021 will, at some point, improve. I know that a lot of people are finding January challenging, with the short days and not-always-great news cycle, but here are five methods I’ve been using to get the most out of January.
- Stay connected
Of course, number one is keep contact with people. Arrange Zoom calls with friends and family, get involved with online classes, communicate with teachers or lecturers – anything that keeps us tied to the world beyond our homes. Talking to other people is a good reminder that we’re in this together, and that other people are finding similar things challenging. I’ve really enjoyed online socials with societies, as it’s a chance to talk and meet new people – even in the strangest of situations.
As important as it is to stay connected, it’s also important to recognise spending some time buried under your duvet watching Netflix is okay too. Living through a pandemic is hard – take it easy on yourself.
2. Try not to doomscroll
This is a challenging one. It’s really important to stay connected with friends, as mentioned, and this is pretty much only achievable through the phone at the moment. However, an easy trap to fall into is endlessly scrolling through the news, Instagram, checking Snapchat every hour and so on. Reading streams of bad news, particularly early in the morning or late at night, is super addictive, but not that helpful.
3. Stay connected
Stay connected again, yes. It simply cannot be underestimated. In this sense though, try to stay connected to nature and the outside world – as much as possible, anyway. It’s easy at the moment to move from the bed to the desk to the dinner table then repeat. Interrupting the cycle with walking or running or just generally getting outside will benefit physical and mental health.
4. Make an ACHIEVABLE schedule (and attempt to stick to it)
Even without pandemics, I’ve always worked best when I structure my day. I work out what topics I’ll focus on in the morning, when I’ll go for the daily walk, when I need to be watching lectures and so on. This resemblance to school-day structure means that I know broadly what I’m hoping to achieve, and (for the most part) limits distractions. It makes the day slightly less monotonous – as I know when I’m moving on from one activity to another. It also makes it easier to remember to go for walks and step away from the screens every once in a while.
Given the stress that comes with the current situation, it’s also important to recognise that it’s fine if you don’t achieve as much work as you’d planned. Achieving anything is still an achievement. Maybe this is a little nerdy, but making a to-do list and then highlighting what you have achieved is super satisfying. It is, after all, the little things we need to focus on at the moment.
5. Enjoy the small moments
Morning coffees. Walks with friends. Really good chocolate. A good grade. A nice coloured pen. Anything. Any wins, any victories, any joy – take it. However small the moment may be, it’s still a good moment. Relish it.
So, I guess the message of this is that, yes, there are ways we can make this lockdown work for us. Celebrating the small moments, and making sure to take care of physical and mental wellbeing is certainly a step in the right direction.