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Reaching for hope in 2021

As we move into this blessed new year, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful for a brighter, more meaningful future, especially around the areas of health and mental health.

We can all fly the banner of hope high in 2021. Here are a few reasons why.

One: Vaccines are coming.

It may be months before we’re all vaccinated, but there is hope in the fact that vaccines exist and that distribution has begun. Healthcare workers are already receiving them and seniors will soon follow. It will take time, but a return to the ability to socialize together - to physically hug each other - is coming.

Two: New and improved coping skills

In the meantime, our awareness and understanding of our personal well-being - what sustains us and what knocks us off course - increased in 2020. It may have been messy, but the tornado that was 2020 taught us all a few things about our individual needs and how to meet them. More importantly, we learned how caring for our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health determines the quality of life we experience.

No matter what 2021 brings, we are better prepared for it.

Three: New ways of thinking about mental health

There’s so much more to do here, but 2020 saw us take several meaningful steps toward widespread acceptance of mental health, on a par with physical health, and the need to increase and improve care for both. In 2020, we began talking to each other about mental health in new ways, and realizing we all experience pain and struggle with stress, anxiety, and depression at times. We began learning to be kinder to ourselves and to others on this issue.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in 2021, we got even closer to becoming a world where there is no stigma attached to mental illness and asking for help and showing that we need it is never a source of embarrassment or shame. The goal is in sight.

Four: The world became more open to better ways of living

Working from home showed us our work schedules can be more flexible and our productivity does not have to be 24/7 to create value for our employers. It’s tough to know how quickly things will shift as companies re-open their doors to their staff. But a seed of better work/life balance and flexible workstyles has been planted. Hopefully it will be nourished and allowed to grow in 2021.

Five: Insert your reason for hope here

Hope is a muscle that needs exercise to better support and sustain us. What are you hopeful about for 2021? If nothing springs to mind, reach for something, no matter how small. Another morning to wake up and see the sun. A smile from a loved one. A day without pain. Just one hopeful thought can lead to more and then more and more again. Even allowing for the possibility of hope can shift feelings of despair and create room for joy.

This is your year to reach for it.

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