Dear Wayne and Wanda,
2020 was a hard year — we all know that. I was really hoping 2021 would be better.
So far it’s been more of the same craziness, with political upheaval that I find so distressing and upsetting, and I was so excited about getting a COVID vaccine but it seems like no one knows what’s going on with that.
I really wanted this to be the year I got in shape, lost some weight, found a boyfriend, but how is any of that supposed to happen when we are all still stuck at home? I haven’t worked out once and I’m in a rut with my diet, and I keep making bad choices there. I love my job but working remotely has completely sucked. I miss my co-workers and my desk and the companionship I get being in the office.
I guess I don’t have one specific question, I’m just feeling unhappy, down, disappointed, and unmotivated. I would appreciate any tips!
Tip number one: take a deep breath and reset! We’re only a couple weeks into the year, and you are being way too hard on yourself.
The big scary world has never felt bigger or scarier, that’s for sure, and it is a time when many of us feel helpless and overwhelmed. When you’re overwrought like this, the tiniest losses and mistakes can feel enormous. For example, you’re beating yourself up because you haven’t worked out or swapped out pizzas for veggies. Well guess what? It’s only the first half of January! You have a ton of time to make 2021 a great year. To do so, you need to focus on the small things within your span of control.
The health goals are a great place to start. While gyms are open again and that’s a viable first place to start, COVID-19 has launched all kinds of virtual opportunities to work out. YouTube is loaded with fun fitness videos, from efficient 10-minute interval workouts to longer cardio sets and free yoga sessions. Just clear your living room furniture out of the way and go at it! As for food, nothing will set you up to succeed more than a meal plan. Putting your food plans on paper creates a visual path of your commitments that week and helps circumvent poor, hunger-driven decisions.
The main thing to remember is show yourself some grace and patience, and don’t try to do too much at once, or instead of feeling joy from your achievements, you’ll add to your feelings of feeling overloaded by the challenges of modern times.
Yeah, 2020 is going to be remembered as the most messed-up year ever, filled with moments and memories that we’d all love to be able to forget. A pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, and our country’s response to it. An insane election season, and our country’s response to it. The loss of friends and family, careers and comfortable restaurants, and even hugs and hope ... and the ridiculous amount of pain we all feel from all that enormous loss.
When — if? — we finally flatten this cursed curve and crush COVID-19, I’ll remember something else about 2020: it was the year that we created many new phrases that were so very fitting yet so terribly overused and misused that they practically turned into instant classic cliches. Out of an abundance of caution. Your mic is muted. The new normal. In the time of COVID. No comment … Oh wait, that one’s been used forever.
Here’s one more: It’s OK to not be OK. Sure, some will rank it among the corniest of 2020′s clichés. But the thing is, it is OK to not be OK these days. Or, in other words, don’t feel bad about feeling bad right now. We’re living in unprecedented times — cliché! — and we’re all just trying to make it one day at a time — cliché! — with our health and sanity intact —cliché?
Need to talk to someone? Call a family member, a friend, a help line — they’ll all listen and understand. Want to calm the mind? Read some of the countless articles about the anxiety everyone is feeling right now, and the many ways to combat it. Feeling depressed? Call a therapist and talk it out; a trained ear and some professional perspective will certainly help, and maybe some prescribed antidepressants will help, too. No matter what you do, don’t do this: be hard on yourself. You’re doing the best you can.