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Setting realistic expectations for 2021

Have you set resolutions for the New Year? Some may say they’ve given up on goal setting and why bother? On the other hand, having no expectations is an unrealistic and pessimistic approach to an already difficult time. We need all the joy and pleasure we can create this year!

Photograph: iStock

Text: Lyndsay Jensen

The end of 2020 signified the end of an era of collective trauma, but the beginning of a new year and new journey. Many of us start a new year with a desire to change.

Studies show New Years' resolutions only "stick" a fraction of the time. But with goals, we intrinsically desire, the results achieved are much higher. Anything this year worth striving for will require us to stay mindfully motivated.

The International top 10 healthy tips and hints for 2021

#1 Connect creatively and safely with loved ones as much as you can.

#2 Feed your body and soul. Eat more vegetables, proteins, and low carbohydrates (and fewer sweets and fruit).

#3 Increase physical activity. Try extra steps, dancing, walking, jump rope, biking, yoga, stretching, stairs, running, whatever physical activity suits you.

#4 Energise your brain with board games and creative activities. Enjoy art, drawing, painting, colouring, crochet, embroidery, knitting, woodworking, journaling, writing, poetry, photography, or other creative outlets.

#5 Find a relaxation or meditation app and take some YOU time.

#6 Find ways to let go of troublesome thoughts or memories. Process your concerns with a close friend you trust, or a professional to help yourself take steps forward.

#7 List what you'd like to accomplish this year and prioritise the list - don't set a deadline, that's too much pressure.

#8 Start new playlists for several moods. Music to calm, music to charm, music to run or dance, music for romance; music to inspire, and music that makes you tired.

#9 Take 3-4 deep diaphragmatic breaths when experiencing stress. Begin with a long inhale through the nose, and extra-long exhale through pursed lips (like you are about to whistle). This breathing technique promotes full oxygenation exchange, lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and slows down the stress response.

The past year has been challenging; you can make the new one kinder. Any new goals you set that involve changing habits or lifestyles will inevitably include some setbacks, lapses, and failures. So when failures happen, remember to be a compassionate self-coach. Forget the harsh judgments and instead take an interest in what you can learn from the setback and where you got stuck. And then restart with that much more wisdom in hand.

On a personal note, I'd like to give our team a huge thank you and pat on the back as we celebrate our 3rd birthday at The International. We will be hosting a couple of online events throughout the year until it's safe to do them at a live event. So keep an eye on our Social Media.

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