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5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself in 2021

From centering at home to advocating at work, set yourself up for success.

by Marissa Blahnik
December 31, 2020 | Living

It's here. We've finally made it to the end of 2020.

This year has been more of a marathon than a sprint and honestly, really more like a game of Jumanji than anything else.

Text on a brown background reading, "Don't forget to shout 'Jumanji!' on December 31st at 23:59 to end the game. Rewire PBS Living Take Care

The hard truth is that it all won't be magically better at 12:01 A.M. on January 1st.

So it's time to restock those self-care toolkits and assess how you want to step into the new year. There's a lot you can't control about what happens next but the one thing you can do is shape how you show up.

Nurture yourself

Your home is your sanctuary, especially these days when you're spending a lot of time within its walls. If you don't already have a space to help you unwind, Rewire contributor Danielle Broadway has some tips to get you started.

"You might think meditation gardens are too pricey and difficult to create in your own home. In reality, they can be as expensive or as affordable as you'd like them to be," Broadway said.

In "Build Your Own Indoor Meditation Garden," Broadway offers advice on how to create the space, pick the plants and find centering exercises to do once it's all put together.

Not a natural gardener, inside or out? We've got you covered with "8 Hardy Houseplants for Inattentive Gardeners."

As you prepare for your green journey, you may find further inspiration from Jared Alexander's experience learning to garden this summer while quarantining at home with his mother.

"Through gardening I've been able to look outward again, to remember the world around me and where I'm headed," Alexander said.

I've never been more inspired to try to not kill plants. I hope it helps you too.

Keep learning

If I'm attempting to find the bright side of 2020 — while doing my best to avoid falling into a toxic positivity trap — I think this year has really reinforced the idea that your learning is never done.

You may feel like you're aware of the world around you and how you fit into it but everything we do and think is shaped by perspective. If you get stuck in your own way of thinking, the world becomes pretty one dimensional. But continuing to expand your perspective, now that's where things get interesting.

Instead of doomscrolling for another hour, put some of that time to use taking a free or low-cost online social justice course to shake up your point of view.

Jill Silos, associate professor of history and political science at Massachusetts Bay Community College, shared with Rewire a list to get you started, a jumping off point for anyone "who wants to learn more about social justice and how to work toward a better future."

If the less-formal route to greater awareness is your thing, fiction can be a way to build empathy and understanding without feeling like you're eating broccoli. "8 Contemporary Black Novelists to Read Right Now" can get you started.

Or, go the podcast route with "Essential Listening: Podcasts on Race and Racism."

Align your values

With all of this self-discovery and centering, it's also a good time to think about how what you value aligns with your actions.

Sometimes we can't do anything about this — you need a job and have to accept and work hard for whatever employer you have.

But if you're in a place in your life where you can be more particular, maybe take a moment to reflect. If there isn't alignment between your workplace and your values, should you find a different employer? Or can you try to make change where you are?

It's a complex issue to be sure but one worth examining.

"Prolonged exposure to a harmful workplace culture results in PTSD," said HR consultant Sarah Morgan to Rewire.

"It impacts our focus, our critical thinking, and our work outputs. It impacts our mental and physical health. It impacts our confidence and our trust of other people."

On a smaller scale — even if you can't change your job, you can align your banking with your values.

"Are you comfortable with where your money sleeps? Are the institutions where you're placing it supporting communities you care about? If you aren't comfortable with the answer to that question, it may be time to make a change," said Ebony Perkins, manager of investor and community relations at Self-Help Credit Union's North Carolina branch.

Learn more in, "'There's Power in Where You Place Your Money.'"

Put your best foot forward

Don't just nurture your private self, think about how you can position yourself at work in the year ahead.

Are you bringing your best self to your job? And if you are, is your work equal to your skills or is there room for you to grow into even more responsibility?

"Put together a proposal first for the work you think needs to get done," career coach Heather MacArthur said to Rewire.

"Showing up as a thought partner to help your manager succeed takes you out of the lane of being an employee that needs to be taken care of, to a business partner that thinks strategically on behalf of the team. Next, pitch how you'd best be able to help achieve those results."

Change may not happen immediately but being proactive and engaged can build trust and create opportunities.

If you're already working hard and feeling under-appreciated, you may be thinking about asking for a higher salary. We've got some expert advice about negotiating from afar in "How to Negotiate Your Salary and Benefits Over Zoom" to get you started.

Pay attention to your mental health

Your mental health is directly linked to your quality of life and physical health. Make the most of 2021 by prioritizing it.

Work on managing your anxiety in these uncertain times. Listen to other's experiences with mental health, and learn how to talk about your own mental health with the people who love you.

"Go offline. Go off social media when you need to. Live your life. Go outside and say "Hi!" to someone through a mask. It works, " said Lorelei Ramirez, stand-up comedian, writer, actor and podcaster to Rewire in "Finding Humor in Dark Times."

"Be a little selfish with how you give out your energy to people and with how you're helping. Care for yourself, like you're caring for a little baby — that's where people should be at."

Marissa Blahnik
Marissa Blahnik is the managing editor of Rewire.
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