It’s New Year’s Eve, 2021 is coming to an end. We are still in this “global pandemic” and it doesn’t seem like we’re are really getting out of this situation at least for another while. Paraphrasing something that I’m hearing a lot recently: “A year has passed, but where did it go?”. Because at the same time we are all perceiving that yes, 12 months have surely come and gone, but also it doesn’t feel like it. I believe this whole situation is making us all feel a bit discombobulated.
So here we are, and we keep on going, trying our best to survive these crazy times, trying to maintain a sort of mental sanity, trying to find some bits of normality during a period that normal is not. And the year coming to an end is usually a source of melancholy because we’re coming to the very final part of these 12 months, and the end always brings up many feelings and emotions like sadness and anxiety, because of the thing that we’re leaving behind and the things that we wanted to do but we haven’t managed. It can quite distressing and it is not surprising that (coupled with the darkness of these months) many people get the “January blues” (you can read on my experience with Seasonal Affective Disorder, and while for me it works in reverse, the symptoms are the same and you might find useful my way of dealing with it).
But we’re usually forgetting that an end means a new beginning. The New Year brings another set of feelings and emotions because there is the hope of a new start with all the new opportunities and chances that that can bring. I am not one to say that if you had a shitty year, go ahead and make 50 “New Year Resolutions” that you’ll probably won’t manage to cope with and you’ll get overwhelmed and frustrated and your new year will result in just a big disappointment.
In order to enjoy the new possibilities that the New Year can bring us and so that we can make the most of what we also can build for ourselves, we should build a sustainable lifestyle, without stressing over the resolutions and the “New Year-New Me” fads. Obviously, if you like creating resolutions and you believe that what you are resolving to do in the next 12 months is doable, by all means, go for it. But if you are going to create 50 resolutions that are all undoable, not achievable, then you’re just paving the path to failure and frustration which will affect your mental and physical health. What I am suggesting is that of those 50 resolutions, at least 30 are achievable with some effort and willpower, but without extreme requirements of energy and time; 15 will require a fairly moderate effort and for 5 you will have to use maximum levels of time and energy. This is probably an extreme example but is to give you an idea. And the levels of time, energy and effort are based on you and only you: comparing yourself to others can be constructive to give you ideas and see what others are doing, but we all have different sets of skills and experiences and as a quote that is around since 2004 circa
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.(maybe Albert Einstein, maybe not)
Therefore, my advice is:
- if you like the idea of resolutions, go for it, but keep it sustainable;
- if you would like this approach but are scared that things might get frustrating, look at them as goals, think of what you really would like to do, break it down into smaller bits and make these smaller bits your goals;
- if you don’t like the idea of resolutions, but still would like some kind of structure to the New Year, then think of what you are aspiring to and what could be your intentions to get to such aspirations.
Now, lessons from 2021 for TVCL:
- Look after your mental health, find what makes you feel good and dedicate some time for that at least once a week or at intervals that work for you. But make time for it!
- Look after your physical health: eat well and sometimes give in to (not too) unhealthy foods, do a detox when you feel like you should, but don’t overdo it – measure is all! Also exercise: find a good balance – 10 minutes per day of anything is better than nothing.
- Find time for reading – read anything, from classic books to comics, but read. If you are stuck, you can try a little challenge like this one to get you started.
- Find some time for nature, as it has many benefits and once you start going for some walks in nearby parks and woods and lakes, you’ll find that a breath in the fresh air will reset your mindset (Nietsche said this as well!).
- Clean and tidy up where you live: not only it will be clean and tidy, but the whole process is almost cathartic and when you finish you really will feel better (talking as an ex-almost-hoarder, the de-cluttering process makes me feel much freer).
- Family and friends are important, so dedicate them time: if you are an introvert you might find that social interactions can take some energyfrom you, but when you come back home from that meeting or you finish that videocall you’ll feel more serene.
- Social events (ceremonies, nights out, etc) are a good way to interact with people and expand your “social circle”, but as of now I can’t take them more than maybe once every few months because of all the mental preparation to get to the actual event (like mental prep to get dressed, meet people, etc).
Yes, I’d say this is what I am taking from 2021, from a year with a global pandemic still going strong, where people still want to get married and go out and have some kind of normality.
In terms of food, for tonight I ordered a Chinese takeout (a little tradition of mine), salt&pepper tofu and rice vermicelli with mixed vegetables. In addition, I made lentils as that’s my family tradition (one big onion and 3 carrots sauteed, then add 1 1/2 cups dried green lentils and 3 cups of water. Cook until the lentils have absorbed all the water).
I hope you all have a fantastic New Year!
Wish you all the best, and as always, go vegan!