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Finding a fresh outlook for 2021

After a year that saw the COVID-19 pandemic impact everyday life all around the world, many are ready to say good-bye to 2020.

Often the start of a brand new year is an opportunity for fresh new beginnings, but as we approach 2021, there may be more feelings of uncertainty compared with other years.

“Any transition can cause people to feel worried about what the future will hold,” explains Dr. Matthew Boyle, psychiatrist at Sunnybrook. “2020 has been a particularly challenging year for many people.”

2021 mental health boost

Needing a little mental health boost for the new year?

You can take steps each day to help build a fresh outlook for 2021.

“While the last year has certainly been stressful for many people, something that can help build resiliency day-to-day and that ability to cope with challenges, is to focus and reflect on some positive things that have happened during the day,” says Dr. Boyle. “These don’t have to be big things. They can be as simple as, ‘I got to spend lunchtime with my kids today,’ or ‘I was able to get a coffee.’”

Finding moments of happiness and gratitude can help ease anxiety and improve wellbeing. Experts say identifying and acknowledging feelings can benefit mental health. It can also be helpful to cope with COVID fatigue by reaching out to family and friends and find ways to stay social despite the distance.

“It is also important to schedule time for regular self-care,” adds Dr. Boyle. “When we are faced with stressors it is important to pay attention to self-care to help reduce the risk of burnout.”

Self-care can take the form of a variety of activities and may include exercise, meditation, connecting with loved ones, or using music to help cope during these times.

“Dedicating time to take part in enjoyable activities can help improve mental health,” says Dr. Boyle.

New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s resolutions are different for everyone, and this year’s resolutions may be very different from past years given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some resolutions may include self-improvement, helping others, or simply incorporating self-reflection into everyday life.

“With any kind of goal-setting, it is important that it is attainable, and especially this year, realistically consider changes due to the pandemic,” says Dr. Boyle. “As a way to help with overall wellness, consider scheduling in time each day for self-care to help decrease stress and anxiety, and boost mental health to support your new year’s journey.”

If you need help in an emergency please call 911 or visit your local emergency department. If you’re feeling like you’re in crisis or need somebody to talk to, please know that help is also available through community resources:

Coping during COVID-19: mental health resources from our Department of Psychiatry

About the author


Jennifer Palisoc

Jennifer Palisoc is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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