I sit here at my laptop, listening to jazz, scoffing down leftover Christmas pudding and scratching my head, thinking of how I can write a blog piece about new beginnings in 2021, and whether I should acknowledge 2020. It would feel artificial not to.
The ongoing pandemic (along with the government’s corruptive mismanagement of it in the UK) leaves most of us reeling daily. The unprecedented scale of loss that the nation is facing, along with the litany of mental and physical health issues that has emerged or worsened for many of us, had been previously unimaginable. Furthermore, not being able to be with family, feeling isolated, and craving human interaction and affection has made life all the more challenging for many. Nevertheless, I am forever looking out for those silver linings; 2020 taught me valuable lessons, as well as having great watershed moments (the BLM movement, the outcome of the US presidential election, the rise of community spirit). Arundhati Roy accurately articulated that the pandemic has worked like an x-ray to highlight the pre-existing inequities and injustices in society. I believe that this has been essential in igniting and strengthening a sense of social justice and community in many, and will lead to a better future. I am hopeful that we can step into a better 2021, and here’s my personal take on how.
The pandemic turned out to be a double-edged sword for me. Whilst it created more anxiety and practical difficulties, I also took it as an opportunity to slow right down, pay attention and reconnect with the Self. I found the first lockdown to be an apt time for focusing on self-care, creating routines and rituals that nourish my mind, body and soul, enhancing my sense of self-compassion and creating balance in my life. These are practices that I will take with me, along with the intentions that I’ll be setting for 2021.
For me, setting new year’s resolutions has always been a futile endeavour. I feel this even more at this uncertain time in lockdown, when we are unable to do normal activities that we’d otherwise do. Instead, I find it useful to set intentions for the year ahead, geared towards self-love.
My intentions are to grow my self-love, self-knowledge and resilience. There are also valuable lessons that I have learnt and selfcare routines that I have practiced in 2020, which I’d like to take into 2021. I share these practices and lessons here with you:
Check-ins. Check in with myself regularly, by asking ‘how do I feel in this situation?’, ‘does this situation/person energise me/make me feel good?’ If not, ‘what can I do about this?’.
Gratitude. Practicing gratitude daily whether it be through prayer or in a journal, preferably in the morning. This puts life into perspective and builds more positive and loving energy for the rest of the day.
Patience. From gratitude comes patience. Patience in the physical and mental healing process. Savouring each little step forward, instead of rushing to achieve the end goal.
Practicing yoga and meditation regularly, in order to nourish my body, mind and soul, and cultivate my inner awareness, thus enabling me to be intentional in every action, and in the way that I live.
Setting my intention for the day in the mornings (e.g. I intend to slow down today), after meditating.
Taking regular doses of ecotherapy: immersing myself in nature and forest-bathing. This is healing on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
Art. I have always felt that my passions protect me during times of turmoil. Whether it be dancing, martial arts, creative writing, or painting, art has always been an effective way to express myself, and connect with my higher Self.
My hope for 2021, is that we grow our resilience to weather the storms that may come our way, and that we expand our hearts to accommodate the sadness, joy and unknown that 2021 brings.
By Sorubiha ANBU UK Volunteer