In partnership with The Fresh Toast

The New Year comes with a lot of resolutions and excitement over new beginnings. Here are some tips to start 2021 off right.

There’s not much credibility for New Year’s resolutions, with most of them falling off a cliff into a raging sea of forgottenness a few days after they’re made. But if we’ve learned something from 2020 it’s that it pays to be prepared.

2021 promises a new president and a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving us with some measure of hope and plenty of opportunities for progression. Still, significant change will happen slowly and it will help us stay patient if we remember some of the struggles we’ve been through, especially those that happened in 2020.

Here are 5 mental health tips that will help you start the year off right:

Manage your expectations

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While you may want to ring in the New Year with guns blazing, it’s safe to keep your standards in check and face the reality that for some part of 2021, things will stay relatively the same. Lots of COVID-19 cases and lots of social distancing. Managing your expectations will help you deal with these problems more effectively, kind of setting a low bar at the time when you need it most.

Equip yourself with basic skills   

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As we begin the new year, we should all hope to have better coping mechanisms, learning healthier ways to manage stress, anxiety, depression and more. While you’d expect us to be better at managing these issues the more we’re exposed to them, this often isn’t the case. In order to learn coping mechanisms, we should actively monitor ourselves when experiencing these feelings.

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Coping mechanisms, such as keeping your mind busy and not engaging with triggers, are very effective, but you should also make time for sitting with your feelings and processing them. Giving this attention and space to your emotions allows them to not pile up and attack you at random times, triggering bad bouts of feelings that can leave you feeling bad for days or weeks at a time. Whenever you get the chance, make the time to check in with yourself.

Always find stuff to look forward to

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It’s very difficult to find stuff to look forward to when the main sources of entertainment, like concerts, movie theaters and all sorts of events, have been put on hold. Still, try your best to make Zoom appointments with friends, to schedule movie nights, walks around the neighborhood, road trips and more. These activities give some meaning to your life and give you tangible things to look forward to.

Enforce some basic self care

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When feeling depressed and overwhelmed, sticking to a self-care routine can be challenging. Still, it can help us feel better about ourselves. Figure out some basic self-care ritual — whether that’s making your bed, moisturizing or applying some kind of hair treatment — that you can commit to on a regular basis. It’s okay if you skip it sometimes, but consistency is helpful for everyone, especially those who are struggling.

It’s okay to feel bad and weird too

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The arrival of the new year tends to be shrouded in excitement and possibility. This is a good thing. But it’s also okay to feel weird given the emotional toll that this year has dealt us. As always, try your best to feel good and to create the time and space for yourself and your feelings. And remember, this pandemic is effecting the entire world in one way or another, so know that you’re not alone.

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